Optional Practical Training is a legal means by which F-1 students can obtain employment in areas related to their academic field of study for up to 12 months in the US. The objective of practical training is not financial but rather an opportunity to gain practical work experience related to your field of study. It can be done before or after completion of studies.
When to apply
You are eligible to apply for OPT 90 days prior to completion of studies, and up to 60 days after your program completion date. You can start applying around mid-February for the Spring semester and the end of September for the Fall semester.
You must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least a full academic year, (9 months) currently in F-1 status, have completed all requirements to receive a degree by the end of the semester, and have not used up more than twelve months of full-time curricular or optional practical training.
How to to apply for OPT
Students file for OPT online through form I-765. In addition to completing the I-765 form, you need to have available the following:
- Original color passport style photos (2)
- Copy of new I-20 requesting OPT from the International Student Advisor
- Copy of any previous SEVIS I-20s (from other schools, other status)
- Copy of I-94 printout
- Copy of the ID Pages of Passport
- Credit or Debit card to pay the $410 filing fee
Before applying for OPT, please meet with the International Student Advisor and request the walkthrough instructional video. Please check-in with your International Student Advisor BEFORE you submit your OPT application.