Workshop Helps International Students Navigate Work Visas

Boushra Rafi, Contributing Writer

Cal State LA’s international students can apply for a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services program that allows them to work in the country — and allows them to work in the U.S. if they find an employer who will sponsor their work visa.


Cal State LA’s International Programs and Global Engagement Office at the University held a workshop last week to help students interested in learning about the training program, called the Optional Practical Training program. There are currently 1,500 international students at Cal State LA and since Fall 2017 and Summer 2018, the office received 180 OPT applications, according to staff members in the office.


The workshop covered eligibility criteria, deadlines to apply and recent changes and updates on federal requirements.


James Fukaye, an advisor for international students, conducted the workshop.


“Definitely from past years and by the way that immigration policies related to OPT have been interpreted, there definitely have been some changes from the Trump administration,” he said.


For instance, one of the forms required has been beefed up from three to seven pages, according to Reshma Sanikommu, an electrical engineering major, whose husband went through the program. She plans to apply.


“During OPT, my husband got good exposure to different experiences while working at a client’s site,” she said. “Later, he got a job in IT in a non-profit, which sponsored his H-1B work visa.”


The workshop highlighted that students who are majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) can get up to three years of the program while students in other majors are eligible for up to one year.


Fukaye suggested students who are interested should apply as soon as possible and always follow immigration guidelines.