Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is F-1 employment authorization for off-campus work that is directly related to your major field of study.

If you want to work off-campus as an F-1 student, you must be eligible and apply for work authorization.  One form of work authorization for F-1 students is OPT. OPT requires an application to and approval from the USCIS. You cannot begin working on OPT until you receive your approval from USCIS in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and it is within the dates listed on that EAD.

    • During your studies (Pre-Completion OPT) and/or
    • After your graduation (Post-Completion OPT and STEM Extension)
    • You do not need to have a job lined up in order to apply for OPT.
    • You must have been enrolled at Williams College for at least one academic year.
    • You must currently be in F-1 status in the US.
    • You must be in good academic standing and be making normal progress toward finishing your degree.
    • You must not have used more than 12 months of OPT in the past at the undergraduate level.
    • If you are finished with your academic program, you can still apply for OPT as long as the USCIS receives your application within 60 days of the end date on your I-20 AND you have not left the US since completing your program.
    • Students of certain majors are eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of their Post-Completion OPT.
    • F-1 students are eligible for a maximum of 12 months of OPT total at the undergraduate level.
    • Pre-Completion OPT can be requested for full-time or part-time work authorization (full-time Pre-Completion is not permitted during academic semesters).
    • Students majoring in a STEM field may also be eligible for an additional 24-month OPT extension of Post-Completion OPT.
    • To apply for OPT to work during your studies, see Pre-Completion OPT.
    • To apply for OPT to work after you graduate, see Post-Completion OPT.
    • To apply for an additional 24-month extension of OPT while you are on Post-Completion OPT, see STEM OPT Extension.
    • For the most up-to-date estimate, visit the USCIS's processing times page (search for Form I-765 at the Potomac Service Center).  Generally, these processing times hover around 3-5 months.

Learn more about each type: