International students at table

International Student Services

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is OPT?

If you would like to work in the U.S. to gain experience in your field of study after graduation, you may consider applying for OPT authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.

OPT is an off-campus employment authorization benefit (you must apply for it) that allows F-1 students to gain work experience in their field of study by seeking full-time employment in the U.S.

If your application is successful, you are permitted a maximum of 12 months of full-time employment for each level of higher education you have completed in the US. For example, upon completing an associate degree, you are eligible (to apply for) 12 months of OPT. If, upon completing the OPT from your associate degree, you enter and complete a bachelor's degree program, you will then be eligible for another 12 months of OPT.

Who Qualifies for OPT?

F-1 students in good standing who have been fully enrolled for at least one year.

Your employment must relate directly to your field of study. This is not open to much interpretation; you must be able to make a compelling case for the relationship between your major and your job.

Post-Completion OPT Application Timeline

You may submit your application for post-completion OPT no earlier than 90 days before your program end date, and no later than 60 days after.

OPT application processing can take up to three months. The 12-month period during which you could do OPT begins immediately after your program end date, regardless of whether you have applied. If you wait until after graduation to apply, processing delays may cause you to lose months of your 12-month allotment. Therefore, you should submit your application as early as possible.

You may not apply for OPT from outside the U.S.

If you travel internationally during OPT, you will need your EAD card, in addition to your other documents to re-enter the country.

You may not begin working until you have received your EAD card.

If you begin a new program of study, your OPT authorization will be terminated.

Your requested start date (the date on which you are permitted to begin working) may be up to 60 days after your program end date, but not before it.

OPT Application Materials

Complete a DSO recommendation request form and submit it to the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement no later than 90 days prior to your program and date.

Complete acknowledgment of responsibilities while on OPT form and submit it to the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement

Complete U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)

Complete U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Form G-1145 (E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance)

Two passport-type photographs that meet listed passport requirements less than 30 days old.

Form (most recent) I-94 copy

Form I-20 copy

SEVIS fee receipt copy

Passport ID and visa page copies

$410 application fee (check or money order)

OPT Application Process

After all application materials have been completed, schedule a meeting with Multicultural Center Staff to review your documents.

After all application materials have been reviewed and copied, staff will provide you with information on where and how to mail your application packet to USCIS.

Once it has been received by USCIS, you can track the status the status of your applicationon the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services website.

Office of Admissions

118 Bush Hall