How might an I-526 petition affect a current F-1 student’s application for CPT or OPT?

An I-526 petition should not impact the outcome of a current F-1 student’s application for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). Because both CPT and OPT are types of temporary work authorization and thus considered extensions of the international student’s F-1 status, filing an I-526 petition should not have any effect on the F-1 visa holder’s status or their CPT or OPT applications.

The two programs aside, complications may arise if the international student is due to renew their F-1 visa before they are granted approval of Form I-526. If the F-1 student’s visa is expected to expire before they acquire conditional permanent resident status, it will be challenging for them to maintain nonimmigrant status and continue residing in the United States. The F-1 student is best served seeking counsel from an experienced immigration attorney before beginning the EB-5 process.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)

After the international student completes their first academic year, they are permitted to engage in off-campus work through the CPT and OPT programs. While OPT can be done before or after graduation, CPT can only be done before graduation. The two can be further distinguished by the role that employers play. While CPT is employer-specific (only certain employers participate in the program), OPT is not. Furthermore, OPT has a 24 month extension available for F-1 students who have completed a degree in certain disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Maintaining F-1 Status

Even with an expired F-1 visa, an international student can lawfully remain in the United States as long as they maintain status. To successfully maintain status for their F-1 visa, the international student must have a valid passport, an authentic Form I-20 with a current travel signature, and a full-time course load in each of their required school semesters.

Provided all the aforementioned conditions are met and the F-1 student is maintaining status, filing an I-526 petition should have no influence on their applications to the CPT and/or OPT programs.