F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) Overview

OPT is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience in the U.S., complementary to the academic program. Post-Completion OPT will start after you have completed your degree.  You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before your program end date.  

Please note: 

  • Certain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree holders may be eligible for an additional 24 month extension of OPT employment. For more information review the F-1 Optional Practical Training STEM Extension.
  • Duration of status and work authorization may also be extended with an OPT H-1B Cap-Gap Extension.

The OPT application must be received by the USCIS within 30 days of the date on which the International Student Office (ISO) issues the OPT I-20. If filed with USCIS after 30 days of the OPT I-20 issuance date, your application will be denied.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for Optional Practical Training, you must:

  • Be in the last semester of your program (you can request for your OPT I-20 within 90 days of your program end date)
  • Have lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year
  • Have not used OPT at the Master's level
  • Have not used more than 364 days of full-time CPT at the Master's level (Part-time CPT does not impact OPT eligibility)
  • Currently be maintaining a full-time program of study and valid F-1 status and
  • Work in a job directly related to your major field of study

Important Notes

  • You do not need a job offer prior to apply for OPT.
  • During post-completion OPT there is a 90-day limitation on unemployment; therefore, F-1 Status is dependent upon employment.
  • If you are uncertain whether you meet the eligibility requirements, please contact the ISO.
  • If you decide NOT to mail your OPT application (Form I-765 plus supporting documentation) to USCIS for any reason, you must notify a P/DSO immediately so that we can timely cancel your OPT recommendation in SEVIS. Failure to inform us can cause problems in the future.
  • If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE), please submit a copy of all pages HERE.

To find more information on how to begin the OPT Process and to apply click HERE.