Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is employment directly related to a student's major but is not for credit or required for a degree. It can be:
- full-time during semester vacations, up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session;
- full- or part-time after a student has completed all coursework for a degree but is still working on the thesis, dissertation, or equivalent; or
- full-time after completion of degree.
Additional Information about OPT
- OPT is available for students who have at least completed one year's work in their academic field of study.
- Work permission is not employer-specific; therefore, a job offer is not required before authorization is given. Only 12 months of full-time OPT are available for F1 students.
- OPT can be authorized for a maximum period of 12 months per educational level. A student becomes eligible for another 12 months of OPT only when he/she changes to a higher educational level.
- International students with an F-1 visa are entitled to complete a maximum of 12 months of OPT during their academic stay in the U.S.
Unemployment while on OPT
During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment, and sets an aggregate limit on days of unemployment that can be accrued while on post-completion OPT. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial post-completion OPT authorization.
Each day during the period when OPT authorization begins and ends that the student does not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment. OPT authorization begins on the employment start date shown on the student’s EAD.The only exception is that periods of up to 10 days between the end of one job and the beginning of the next job are not included in the calculation of time spent unemployed.
Time spent outside the United States during an approved period of post-completion OPT counts as unemploed against the 90 day limits, unless the student is either:
- Employed during a period of leave authorized by an employer
- Traveling as part of his or her employment
Unemployment while outside the United States
Time spent outside the United States while unemployed will count towards the 90 aggregate during the authorization validity period. If a student travels while employed either during a period of leave authorized by an employer or as part of their employment, the time spent outside the United States will not count as unemployed.
A student who has exceeded the period of unemployment while on post completion OPT has violated his or her status unless he or she has taken one of the following actions:
- Applied to continue his or her education by a change of education level or transferring to another SEVP-certified school.
- Departed the United States.
A student may be denied future immigration benefits that rely on the student’s valid F-1 status if immigration determines that the student exceeded the limitations on authorized unemployment.
Students are advised to report changes in employment to the Office of International Services as soon as possible to avoid situations where immigration officials may determine the student is out of status.
We recommend that students maintain evidence:
- for each job
- of position held
- proof of duration of that position
- the job title
- contact information for student’s supervisor or manager
- a description of the job
Students are responsible for updating the Office of International Services of any changes for the duration of the time that training is authorized.
Note: If you engage in full-time CPT for 12 months or more, you will no longer be eligible for OPT.
* 17 month extension of OPT for certain Highly Skilled Foreign Students
F-1 students in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) who are granted an initial post completion OPT are now eligible to apply for an one-time extension for an additional 17months, a maximum of 29 months.
- must be a full-time student in good academic and financial standing
- must have been a full-time student for at least the past 9 months
- must currently be in F-1 status
- employment must be directly related to your major and field of study
- students are required to show proof of health insurance when applying for OPT.
- please click for information on new 17 months OPT extension rule.
You must submit the following documents 90 days before the last day of classes in the Office Of International Services:
You must submitt the following documents 90 days before the last day of classes to the respective USCIS:
- Cashier's check or money order or Demand Draft for $380.00 (made payable to "Department of Homeland Security").
- Completed I-765 form
- Photocopy of your current Form I-20 (OPT) and Previous Employment Form I-20's (CPT)
- Photocopy of passport pages (All pages from first to last including blank pages)
- Photocopy of I-94 Card (front and back)
- Photocopy of any previous EAD (For the students applying for OPT Extension)
- Two photos with white background taken no earlier than 90 days before submission to USCIS. All photos must meet the specifications for full-frontal/passport photos and must not be more than 30 days old when an application is filed. The photos should be printed on thin photo-quality paper and must be in colors. For more information on photo standards visit the U.S. Department of State Guidelines for Producing High Quality Photographs for U.S. Travel Documents. Please mention your Full Name and the I-94 number on the backside of photographs with Pencil.
YOU ARE REQUIRED by Law to notify the Office of International Services, OF YOUR EMPLOYERS NAME AND ADDRESS WITHIN 5 BUSINESS DAYS UPON RECEIVING EMPLOYMENT.
By Law, every student must notify the Department of Homeland Security within 10 days of any 'change of address'.
We recommend that applications are submitted at least three months before graduation.
Health Insurance during OPT
Students are required to show proof of adequate health insurance coverage prior and during OPT.
Once you have purchased/ renewed insurance, please provide this office with the requested receipt/ purchase (the date for which you are covered must be valid for one year).
We will be unable to process your OPT application without proof of said insurance.
Students are liable for all incurred medical expenses if their health insurance policy is inactive, and they require medical attention.
OIS will endorse and date your I-20 to show that practical training is recommended and sign-off on your Practicum Training Authorization Form
You must send a copy of your I-20, Form I-765, copies of your passport pages, visa and I-94 card, photos and fee, to the USCIS by "certified mail-return receipt requested." You should make and keep copies of everything you send.
The USCIS will process your file. If they approve your application, they will issue you an EAD card (Employment Authorization Document). You should expect to receive the card in three to four months.
Students are encouraged to apply for optional practical training for 12 months, since post-completion optional practical training is no longer available.
OPT must be requested prior to the completion of all course requirements for the degree or prior to the completion of the course of study.
If your OPT has been approved and he/she departs before getting a job, his/her OPT ends.
YOU MAY NOT BEGIN WORKING UNTIL YOU HAVE RECEIVED AN EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION CARD FROM THE USCIS AND YOU HAVE COMPLETED ALL REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR DEGREE.
NOTE: Students thinking of traveling outside U.S. during the processing of their OPT application should be aware that the USCIS may consider their departure from the U.S. an abandonment of the application. Students choosing to travel are making their own choice of possible losing their OPT employment eligibility.