Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization in the U.S. that is related to an F-1 student's academic program and limited to 12 months. The work done does not count towards course credit; therefore it is the student's option to apply for OPT. OPT is typically used after a student has completed his/her degree, though it may also be may used during a student’s degree program.
- Students who have been fully-enrolled and in legal F-1 student status for nine consecutive months (a full academic year)
- Students must not have used 12 months of full-time CPT
- Work must directly relate to student’s academic area of study
- Students do not have to have a job offer to apply for OPT
1. Pre-Completion – OPT used before completion of degree program
- No more than 20 hours of work per week while classes are in session
- During summer vacations and school holidays work can be full-time
- Students still must be enrolled full-time during the academic year
2. Post-Completion – OPT used after completion of degree program
- Must be full-time work
- Start date must be within 60 days of program end date on your I-20
- Limited to 90 days of unemployment beginning on OPT start date
OPT is limited to 12 months. Part-time OPT (20 hours per week or less) will be deducted from the available OPT at one-half the full-time rate (i.e., students who engage in pre-completion OPT will have that time--whether full- or part-time--deducted accordingly from any post-completion OPT).
Applying for OPT
For post-completion OPT, students can apply no earlier than 3 months prior to completing their program, and no more than 120 days before their chosen OPT start date.
To apply, a student must bring to the Office of International Student Services (ISS) the following:
- $380.00 fee (check or money order only) made payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- OPT I-765 application form
- G-1145 form (optional, but recommended)
- I-20, passport, visa, and I-94
- 2 passport-size photos taken no earlier than 30 days prior to application submission
- If you have previously worked on OPT, you will need to bring copies of all other Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)
Timeline After Applying
- Students will receive a receipt from USCIS and will be able to check the status of their OPT application using this receipt number and date on the USCIS website.
- Processing time to receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is approximately 80 days after the date posted on the receipt.
- Approved students will receive EAD in the mail at the address provided on the I-765 application.
- A student can begin working ONLY after he/she receives the EAD card.
- Students must report the following to their DSO while on OPT:
- Residential address
- Employer’s name and address
- Start and end dates for each job held
- Any periods of unemployment
- All reporting must be done within 10 days of the change occurring
Please inquire at the International Student Services Office if you have any questions about OPT.