Possibility of doing volunteer work in my university during OPT extension?

I am in the first year of my OPT, doing volunteer work for a research staff in my university.

  1. I wonder if I could continue my volunteer work during STEM OPT Extension?

    My international student office’s reply was: “If you are appointed at our university in an unpaid position and you are in a STEM field, that counts since our university is an e-verified employer.” What I am not sure is what “appointed in an unpaid position” means precisely. I filled out three forms of our university for description of volunteer service, volunteer profile, and volunteer agreement. The research staff that I am working for also wrote a letter with the starting and ending dates of my volunteer and description of my work. Does that mean that I have been “appointed in an unpaid position” or not? I am just like an intern in a company, and I am not listed as a staff in the lab, department, or university.

  2. If it is case by case, according to the cases that you know, are the successful cases more or less than the unsuccessful ones?

  3. In general, when an international student does OPT extension with an e-verify employer, what does the employer need to do for the student’s OPT extension and e-verification?

In my case, what does the research staff, the lab, the department or the university need to do for my OPT extension and e-verification?

When I was looking for volunteer positions in my university at the beginning of my OPT, some professors politely declined when I told them what I needed was just a short verification letter for the working starting and ending date and the job description. They didn't want to be bothered by anything that might be legal related. Now when it comes to OPT extension, I am worried if there is some extra thing that I have to ask for from my already very kind supervisor.


Hi Tim,

The phrase ‘appointed in an unpaid position’ includes all volunteer assignments. Your department can work with the university’s international office for the OPT extension process. Just make sure the international office knows about the arrangement as soon as possible. I also suggest to students not to ask professors and mentors directly for letters, these requests make them very nervous. You are not asking for much at all but because the professors don’t understand the process, it makes them worry. Allow all such requests to be made to the department by the unit responsible for foreign students.

Best wishes

Dr. Sandeep Shankar, hopehumanityATgmail.com; wwwDOThopeforhumanityglobalDOTorg