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.
- 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:
- You MUST have an OPT EAD Card in your hands to begin work.
- You must work between the start and end dates listed on your OPT EAD Card.
- Employment through OPT will automatically be terminated if you transfer to another school in the US or start a new course of study.
- 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):
- Forms I - 765 and G-1145
- All prior Form I-20s (first and second pages)
- Copy of passport biographical information page
- Copy of F-1 student visa
- Copy of Form I-94 printout
- 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.
- Completed Student Acknowledgement of Responsibility with the desired OPT dates.
- U.S. Credit Card OR Check, Money Order, Cashier's Check to the order of "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $410 USD.
- Two 2x2 U.S. passport-style photos/1 Digital2x2 U.S. passport-style photo.
- OPT Recommended Form I-20 generated after your P/DSO sees your full, draft OPT application.