Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides F-1 students with an opportunity for hands-on work experience (work authorization) related to the academic field of study.
You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria:
OPT authorization that begins after completion of your academic program is called “post-completion” OPT. This is the most common type of OPT.
Post-completion OPT is full-time, and it can begin after you complete your degree. You must apply for OPT based on your last registered quarter. If you are not able to complete your program as expected, contact school adviser immediately to review your options.
OPT used while you are still enrolled in your course of study is called “pre-completion” OPT. Pre-completion OPT is rather uncommon. Usually current students are eligible for alternate employment authorization, such as Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Because pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months of OPT eligibility, most students prefer to save OPT for after program completion. You may start the OPT application process up to 90 days before your requested employment start date. Pre-completion OPT can be approved for different rates:
While approved for OPT, you are still in F-1 status and must report address changes and employment information to school.
Please read the following instructions carefully. Although we provide information, we do not approve the application or have the authority to influence the process. If there is a request for information or to correct a problem, USCIS will notify you of the request but it is your responsibility to respond. Please note that if you choose to travel, it could be difficult to respond to requests from USCIS about your application.
Submit your completed OPT application (except the USCIS filing fee check/money order/credit card form) to the front desk. An adviser will review your application, note any items missing or needing to be changed, and will issue a new, updated I-20 with an OPT recommendation printed on page 2.
USCIS will send you a receipt notice (I-797 Notice of Action) confirming receipt of your OPT application, assigning a “receipt date,” and assigning a receipt number. Carefully review the notice to make sure your name is spelled correctly. If it is not, contact the school adviser immediately.
You may use the receipt number on your receipt notice to check the status of your application online. It is normal for your case status to say “initial review” for most of the 3-5 month processing period.
You may not begin employment until USCIS approves the OPT application and you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Authorized OPT dates will be on your EAD.