Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is permission to work in a job related to your field of study. F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of optional practical training authorization. This authorization can be used for full-time summer work or part-time work (not more than 20 hours/week) during the academic year, or all or part of the time can be saved for full-time employment after graduation. Graduate students who have completed all course requirements may begin full-time OPT while completing their theses or dissertations.
In making a recommendation for optional practical training under SEVIS, the DSO will update the student’s record in SEVIS as having been recommended for OPT. The DSO will then print the employment page of the student’s SEVIS Form I-20, and sign and date the form to indicate that optional practical training has been recommended. The F-1 student files with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for an Employment Authorization Document (must send Form I-765 with fee, and the SEVIS Form I-20 employment page indicating that OPT has been recommended by the DSO).
Plan ahead. Applications should be filed with the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the address where the student currently resides (address on I-765). The approval process may take as long as 90 days, and you cannot begin working until you have received your work authorization. Additionally, travel during the process of your application can be difficult. If you plan to travel after graduation you should discuss this in advance with an international student advisor.
To be eligible for optional practical training, you must:
- Have been a full-time student for at least one academic year and be maintaining full-time enrollment.
- Have a valid passport, I-94 card, and I-20.
- For pre-completion OPT apply up to 90 days before the proposed date of employment if student has completed a full academic year.
- For post-completion OPT apply within 90 days before completion of studies or up to 60 days after graduation.
Note: If the student has not completed a full academic year, the student may only apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before the end of the full academic year.
- Obtain the F-1 Optional Practical Training Packet from IPS.
- Read all of the information in the packet carefully.
- Return the packet to IPS. Bring with you the following:
- Copies of all I-20s that you have (pages 1 and 3)
- Copies of your passport, visa and I-94 card
- Completed I-538 form (included in the packet)
- Completed I-765 form (included in the packet)
- Copy of any previous employment authorization card(s) (EADs)
- The DSO will evaluate the above forms and documents and make an appropriate decision. If you are approved the DSO will update the student’s record in SEVIS as having been recommended for optional practical training. The DSO will then print the employment page of the student’s SEVIS Form I-20, and sign and date the form to indicate that optional practical training has been recommended. If all of these materials are in order, the DSO will call you to pick up your OPT application. All documents should be sent by the student with a check for the amount of $340.00 to the Service Center with jurisdiction over your place of residence (address on your I-765).
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