Skip to main content

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practice Training (OPT)  (link will open in a new window) allows F1 students the opportunity to work in their field of study in the United States up to 1 full year after completing a degree. This year is meant to help you get practical "hands-on" experience and prepare for employment in your home countries.

Employment must be directly related to your studies. Employment outside the primary area of study is forbidden.

Note: If you have already had 12 months of OPT while earning an associate or higher degree, you are ineligible. Contact us if you have any questions or read more about OPT (link will open in a new window).

Application Process

  1. Prepare these required forms and documents:
    • Completed USCIS Form I-765 (Link will open in a new window)
    • Check or money order for the I-765 fee made out to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security"
    • Copies of your passport ID page, I-94, all I-20s issued to you, and (if applicable) Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
    • 2 color passport-sized photos
  2. Complete an OPT Request form (PDF)Listen to request the following from International Admissions:
    • Letter from P/DSO indicating your current academic status and expected date of completion of your studies
    • New I-20 with recommendation for OPT
  3. Mail all documents from Step 1 and Step 2 to USCIS at the appropriate filing location within 30 days of the issuance of new I-20.

Review our OPT checklist (PDF)Listen to make sure you have everything completed.

Taking the Job

Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is authorization to find employment and to start work only on the date your EAD card becomes valid. Do not work outside of the EAD dates!

While on OPT you have up to 90 days to find a job. Failure to provide a job offer letter to the International Admissions Office within 90 days is considered a violation of F1 status.

For answers to additional questions, check the USCIS website (link will open in a new window) or talk to our office.

Life after OPT

When your OPT EAD card expires, you must stop working. You can doof the following:

You must transfer or leave the country within 60 days of the EAD card's expiration date. You are required to notify the International Admissions Office of your plans before the 60-day grace period expires. Otherwise your F1 status will auto-complete, and we will not be able to help you any further.

Transferring to Another School

If you are accepted to another U.S. college or university and transfer before the EAD card expires, you must stop working on the date of the transfer.

If you will depart the United States after completing OPT, please notify us in person or by email or fax. Please also provide a copy of your travel ticket. This will allow us to report your good standing to the government after your departure.

If you need help, contact us.

Updated March 10, 2021