Optional Practical Training

 

What is it?
OPT is off-campus employment that is related to your major field of study and is a benefit of the F-1 visa status. An F-1 student who is eligible to apply for OPT must have been in lawful F-1 status for one full academic year prior to applying for OPT. This includes having a valid I-20, passport (which will not expire for at least one year after you apply for OPT), full-time enrollment, etc. If you have questions about whether of not you are eligible, consult your International Student Advisor.

Eligible F-1 students may engage in optional practical training for a total of 12 months:
After completion of a course of study (Undergraduate and Graduate students)
After completion of all course requirements if engaged in thesis or dissertation research (Graduate students only)
While school is in session, provided that it does not exceed 20 hours per week in any given week while school is in session (deducted from the 12-month maximum at a proportional rate of 50%)
During the summer or winter break of the regular academic year

You don't need a job offer in order to apply for OPT, but you must apply for OPT before you complete your studies. One can apply as early as possible within the last semester of studies.

How do I apply?

To apply for OPT, please contact your International Student Advisor for an appointment if you have questions after you have read the information on this website and have completed all the forms to the best of your ability.  While your International Student Advisor can recommend OPT permission, it is the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service(USCIS) that must approve the OPT.  The Advisor will verify that you are in lawful F-1 status and then make a notation on your "SEVIS" I-20.

Students must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), with USCIS. This is an on-line process.  Forms and more detailed information can be answered at USCIS - I-765 Application. If approved, USCIS will issue an EAD to the student.  The filing fee for an I-765 is $380.00.