Optional Practical Training (OPT) is off-campus employment authorization that lets F-1 students get work experience in their major field of study. The amount of work you are permitted is a maximum of 12 months of full-time employment for each higher education level you pursue in the U.S. You can use it during or after your studies. You can work for any employer, anywhere in the country.
How can it be used?
Before completion of studies – for example, part-time employment (20 hours per week) for 2 years. You must apply for OPT renewal at the end of the first year.
After the completion of studies – full-time employment for 12 months.
- You must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year and in valid F-1 status.
- You must be able to describe how the type of work you are seeking directly relates to your major. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. If you are applying for before completion of studies OPT, however it is wise that you be as sure as possible of a job, so that you don’t waste any of your OPT time.
- You may apply for after-completion of studies OPT up to 90 days before your graduation date or 60 days after your graduation date.
- If you have already used 12 months of full-time CPT, you are not eligible for OPT.
Submit the following documents
- OPT Request Form (available in the Dean’s Office)
- Form G-1145
- Form I-765 (please use the Dean’s Office address)
- $410 fee in the form of a check or money order. Please make payable to the United States Citizen and Immigration Service. If you are using a personal check, it must have your name and address on it.
- Two passport type photographs (write your name on the back with pencil)
- Photocopies of all previous Form I-20s (issued by us and other institutions)
- Photocopies of your passport identification page, visa, and Form I-94
- Photocopies of any previous EAD card(s) (if you have them)
The Assistant Dean of International Student Services will review your application to make sure that you qualify. If you do, we will issue an updated Form I-20 recommending your OPT and include it in your application. We will send your application to USCIS for processing of your work authorization.
How long does it take?
After you return your application to the Dean’s Office, plan that it will take about 2-4 months for your EAD (Employment Authorization Document) to be returned to us from USCIS. We will then mail it to you.
It’s important to take USCIS processing time into consideration when planning the date you want to start working. YOU CANNOT BEGIN TO WORK UNTIL YOU HAVE YOUR EAD CARD.
Reporting while on OPT
The following information must be reported to the Assistant Dean of International Student Services while on OPT within 10 days of the change:
- Any change in name or address
- Employer’s name, address, start date and how it related to your field of study
- Any break in the employment period
During the after-completion of studies OPT period, maintaining F-1 status is dependent upon current employment. Students may not be unemployed for a total of 90 days during the OPT period. Students with more than 90 days of employment would be considered in violation of F-1 status.
Authorization to engage in OPT is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level. You have a 60-day grace period after the end date on your EAD card.