OPT Marriage Work Cards

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Can I file for an OPT work card at the same time as filing for a marriage based work card? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We love having our Ask Me Anything Webinars once a month. We hop on Demio and we do a Ask Me Anything Webinar, and we keep good track of the questions that come through there. And if they involve questions that we haven’t covered in prior videos, we do them right here on our very own YouTube channel. We’re really glad you’re here. Come join us in our Ask Me Anything Webinar next time. But I’m making this video just for you, because if you missed the last one, we wanted to cover some of those topics in a little bit more detail.

All right, so in this question, the question is, can I file for a work card based on my marriage based green card and based on OPT? So what kind of a scenario are you talking about, Jimbo? All right, so here we go. So one of our webinar attendees told us that their attorney told them they couldn’t do both of these things. So what are we talking about? We’re talking about a situation where an F-1 student has graduated from college. And when you graduate from college on an F-1, you can apply for something called Optional Practical Training, OPT. And through the OPT program, you can work for a year for a US employer and they can test you out and you can test them out and see if it’s a good fit. And they might be able to sponsor you for an H-1B, for a work visa. And when you’re done with school, your international student advisor will tell you the process of applying for OPT. If I didn’t say already, that’s called the Optional Practical Training, OPT.

You get a work card, and through that work card you can work for an employer in your field of study. Typically, people graduate in May, and they will apply around that time, either a little bit before or a little bit after graduation for a work card. Sometimes those people also happen to be getting married to a US citizen, and through that process they apply for adjustment of status and they get a temporary work card through that. So the form that you filed to get a work card is an I-765.

Now, this attendee to our webinar was told by their lawyer that you can’t apply for an EAD through OPT and apply for an EAD, an Employment Authorization Document, through the marriage based case. You know what? That is pure crap. That’s bad information from a lawyer and that’s wrong. We’ve had plenty of clients get both EADs.

Now, I wouldn’t file them on the exact same day, but as long as you’re a week or two off, they’re going to be assigned separate case numbers. You’re entitled to both, and you should always take advantage of any immigration benefit that you want. Now, you might not want to spend the money. It’s a separate filing fee. I don’t remember exactly what it is, I think it’s around $400. But there’s no rule that says you can’t do it. And so in our book at our office, if you can take advantage of an immigration benefit, you should. Because you never know what’s going to happen, your marriage might fall apart, you might not be able to find a job. If you’re going to work on an EAD through Optional Practical Training, there’s a requirement that you can’t have 60 days of unemployment. Well, there’s no such requirement with the marriage based work card.

So it’s really to your benefit to apply for both, to file for both and to get both. They’re may come a time where you have to turn those back into USCIS, but there’s no rule that says you can’t have two. And of course the other benefit of getting a family-based, marriage-based EAD is that you can work anywhere. So you don’t have to just work at the employer that is aligned with the field of study that you had in college. In other words, if you get a computer science degree and your OPT work card, that would require you to work in that field. But an EAD based on marriage, would allow you to work anywhere.

Now, technically, if your marriage falls apart and you have worked on your EAD based on marriage, that would be a violation of your F-1 status. So perhaps that might be what the attorney meant when they were talking to that person. But the person was so adamant, that I think that the attorney might not have understood. But, anyway.

If you have questions about this, give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and we will update you whenever we shoot a new video just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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