Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

OPT allows you to gain practical work experience in your field of study. As an F-1 student, you may be eligible for up to 12 months of OPT. The employment must be directly related to your field of study. To receive OPT you must apply through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to receive an employment authorization document (EAD).

Eligibility

A student may be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) if:

  • Student has been maintaining F-1 status and has been a full-time student for a minimum of one academic year (3 terms) in an SEVP-certified school
  • Student is not studying English as a Second Language
  • Student will be completing all the requirements for their degree program by the end of the current quarter term
  • Student has not been granted OPT at the same or higher educational level
  • Student has not been authorized for 12 months or more of full time CPT

Procedure

A Form I-765 for standard post-completion OPT can be filed with USCIS up to 90 days before the program end date and up to 60 days after the program end date (provided that it is received by USCIS no later than 30 days of the date the DSO enters the OPT recommendation into SEVIS).

Applying for OPT is a two-step process:

  1. Student will meet with an International Student Advisor to confirm that they are eligible for OPT and will be asked to complete an OPT Request Form. Upon confirmation of eligibility, the International Student Advisor will provide the student with a checklist of items to prepare for the OPT application.
  2. Student will prepare the necessary documents to apply for OPT and make a second appointment to review them with an International Student Advisor.  During this appointment, if the application is found to be complete, the advisor will direct the student on where to send the application and what the following process.*

*A third appointment may be needed if advisor is not able to review all necessary documents during second appointment.

Processing Times

USCIS takes approximately 60-90 days (maybe longer) to process OPT applications. A student may not engage in any employment until they have received a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If a student would like to begin employment soon after completing their studies, they should plan on applying for OPT at least 60 days prior to their completion date.

 

For further details, please see your International Student Advisor: International Student Advising