F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
This type of practical training is available for degree seeking students for a total of at least 12 months (or more) per degree level. Moving to a higher degree level resets this 12 month period. OPT can be used during breaks in study or after completion of your final degree requirement. OPT requires that you pursue employment in your area of study, but does not require a specific employment opportunity at the time of application. However, a period of 90 days or more of unemployment, in aggregate, during post-completion OPT will result in loss of status unless in a 17-month STEM extension (see below). Including the 17-month STEM extension, students may be unemployed for an aggregate of 120 days. Any student on post-completion OPT must report changes in residential address and employment to the ISO within ten days of any change. Changes should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. See the link below for more information.
- Post-Completion OPT Student Responsibilities
- H-1B "Cap-Gap"
- 17-month OPT Extension for Science Technology Engineering or Math (STEM)
To apply for OPT you must first obtain Form I-20 from the ISO documenting eligibility for OPT and subsequently submit an application for employment authorization to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You may not begin working on OPT until you receive the employment authorization card from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Applications for post-completion OPT may be filed no earlier than 90 days prior to the completion of study or during the grace period, if you have not departed the U.S. after the I-20 expires . NOTE: If you have not completed all coursework for your degree and are unsure that you will complete your degree on time, you should not apply for post-completion OPT until you are sure or have completed your degree.
Students may request for OPT to begin any date from one day after the date of completion of study to 60 days after the date of completion of study. Applications for OPT can take three months or more for the USCIS to adjudicate so it is very important to plan accordingly. Students may not begin working pursuant to post-completion OPT unless they are in possession of a valid OPT employment authorization card issued by the USCIS.
Optional Practical Training Instructions
Step One: Ask your advisor to complete the Academic Advisor Recommendation Form (MS Word).
Step Two: Complete a Request for I-20 (MS Word) and Form I-765 (PDF) - For more I-765 information, including the USCIS instructions, visit the USCIS website. Please complete Form I-765 electronically, save it and print it to bring to the ISO for review.
Step Three: Submit the materials (including Form I-765) to the ISO during office hours.
Step Four: Pick up the endorsed Forms I-20 and Form I-765 from the ISO, and follow the OPT USCIS Filing Instructions.
Step Five: Complete the Form G-1145: www.uscis.gov/files/form/g-1145.pdf, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance if you wish to take advantage of receiving email and/or text messages when your application has been received. NOTE: USCIS will continue to mail the receipt notices to you. Completion and submission of this form for email and/or text message notificaton is an option for you and not a required form.