Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training Information

OPT is employment permission authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  You will need to work with your immigration advisor for the application process.  Employment activity – paid or unpaid—must be directly related to your major field of studies. Optional Practical Training, while permitted during your studies, is primarily used after completion of studies (degree awarded) as a one-year employment opportunity in the U.S.

  • OPT is available to F-1 students only after one continuous academic year in valid student status.
    • If you have been enrolled full time in another status and changed to F-1 through a change of status application or re-entering with a new F-1 visa, you may be eligible to apply for OPT.
  • Any OPT employment activities must be directly related to your major and appropriate to level of study, but OPT is not tied to specific classes or program requirements.
  • 12 months of OPT (pre-and post-completion, combined) are available per higher level of study.If you do not use it immediately at a level of studies, you cannot claim it later.
  • 24 month extensions are available for some Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students.See OPT information packet for additional information.
  • Apply for post-completion OPT before finishing program (no more than 90 days) or up to 60 days after.Untimely applications will be rejected by USCIS.
  • USCIS approval can take three months or more.
  • Fee required with application ($410 at this writing, verify before application)
  • I-9 and Social Security Number required for paid employment.You may apply for a Social Security Number as a part of your OPT application.
  • Request an OPT packet for additional information.
    • Recently there have been reports of an aggregate of more than 12 months of practical training – OPT and CPT together – causing problems with H-1B work authorization applications.Students should be cautious of appearing to be using CPT and OPT as work permission rather than training in their field of studies.