Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) = one year (12 months) of eligibility to work in the United States in a job that is directly related to the major field of study. 

The vast majority of international students apply for post-completion OPT, which means that the period of employment would start in the grace period immediately following program completion and graduation.

Time frame End to End: 2-4 months. 

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Enrolled full-time in an academic program for at least one academic year before beginning OPT.
  • May apply up to 90 days before but no later than 60 days after completing your degree. 
  • Must have not already used 12 months of full-time OPT.
  • Must submit your application while you are still in the United States. 

Important OPT Rules:

  1. You MUST have an OPT EAD Card in your hands to begin work.
  2. You must work between the start and end dates listed on your OPT EAD Card.
  3. Employment through OPT will automatically be terminated if you transfer to another school in the US or start a new course of study.
  4. You only have 90 days of unemployment while on OPT —you must report any employment to your P/DSO so that they can put this information in SEVIS. If you have 90 days consecutively without reporting any employment to your P/DSO, your SEVIS record will be automatically terminated by the US government.

Generally, these are the elements of an OPT Application (changes/depends on the method of application - online or paper):

  1. Forms I - 765 and G-1145  
  2. All prior Form I-20s (first and second pages)
  3. Copy of passport biographical information page
  4. Copy of F-1 student visa
  5. Copy of Form I-94 printout
  6. Completed Academic Advisor's Recommendation for OPT indicating the date that you expect to complete your studies and the fields that you would like to pursue. 
  7. Completed Student Acknowledgement of Responsibility with the desired OPT dates.
  8. U.S. Credit Card OR Check, Money Order, Cashier's Check to the order of "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $410 USD. 
  9. Two 2x2 U.S. passport-style photos/1 Digital2x2 U.S. passport-style photo.
  10. OPT Recommended Form I-20 generated after your P/DSO sees your full, draft OPT application.