Optional Practical Training
Similarly to CPT, Optional Practical Training is temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study. However, OPT is not part of the curriculum, and therefore doesn't redeem any academic credit. OPT can occur while school is in session (pre-completion OPT) or after the completion of all courses and requirements for a degree (post-completion OPT). For each educational level (B.A./B.S., M.A./M.S., PhD.) you are allowed 12 months of OPT.
- You must be in lawful F1 status.
- You must be enrolled in an academic program for at least 2 academic terms.
- OPT must be directly related to and commensurate with the level of the student's course of study.
- You must apply and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS.
- You must still have time left for OPT.
- You must apply for OPT BEFORE the completion of your 60-day grace period. Make sure to provide enough time for USCIS processing, no more than 90 days prior to the requested start date of the employment authorization.
- In order to apply for a 17-month OPT extension you must fulfill the following eligibility criteria:
- You must have approved post-completion OPT at the time of application.
- Your employer must be registered with E-Verify.
- Your program of study must be in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) categories.
- You must apply before your post-completion OPT authorization ends.
- Complete the OPT Application Form by giving it to all appropriate parties and return it to the Office of International Students (Dolan House 105).
- Provide a Recommendation Letter from your academic advisor requesting OPT.
- Make photocopies of all prior Forms I-20 and all prior EAD cards.
- Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. At item 16 please mark one of the following:
- (c)(3)(A) - If you are applying for pre-completion OPT
- (c)(3)(B) - If you are applying for post-completion OPT
- (c)(3)(C) - If you are applying for OPT extension
- Attach payment for $380 in the form of check or money order made out to: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- Submit photocopies of both sides of your Form I-94, your passport bio page, and your U.S. visa.
- Obtain two immigration style photos.
Important Notes and Limitations
- When engaging in pre-completion OPT you are only eligible for part-time work (20 hrs. or less) while school is in session (fall and spring semesters).
- If you engage in full-time CPT for a cumulative length of twelve months or longer, your OPT rights will be waived.
- Keep in mind that University Health Insurance expires in August. Make sure to inquire about medical insurance to assure you are covered for the OPT period.
- While on OPT, you must not be unemployed for longer than 90 days in order to maintain your F1 status.
- You must report, within 10 days, any changes to the following information:
- Your name
- Your address and contact information
- Your employer
- Your employer's address
- Your supervisor's name and contact information
- If any of the information above does not change, you must check in with the Office of Student Engagement once every six months.