IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Harrisburg University and International Student Office have no influence over USCIS, the final arbiter of OPT applications. HU and ISO provide no guarantees that your OPT application will be approved. The OPT application is considered your own application. Any communication from USCIS regarding your OPT application status will be sent directly to you. 

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) Overview

Post Completion OPT is intended to provide hands-on practical training work experience within the United States that is directly related to your program of study. OPT may only be used one time at each degree level, if approved by USCIS. You must be in F-1 status to apply for OPT. You can apply for OPT up to 90 days prior to your program end date. You can apply for OPT during your 60-day grace period. USCIS needs to receive your application prior to the end of your 60-day grace period.

Please Note:

  • You must receive an I-20 recommending OPT from the ISO prior to submitting your application to USCIS. For information about receiving the I-20, please visit the following article: OPT Application Process
  • You must submit your application to USCIS within 30 days of the date ISO has issued the OPT I-20.
  • Certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degree programs qualify for an additional 24 months of OPT. Please review the following article STEM OPT Overview and Application Process.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for Post-Completion OPT, the following must apply

  • You must be in Active F-1 status. If you have a pending F-1 Change of Status, you cannot apply for OPT while your application is still pending.
  • You must be in your final semester of your degree program.
  • You cannot have been approved for Post Completion OPT previously at the same degree level.
  • You cannot have used more than a combined 364 days of full-time CPT at your current degree level.
  • You must earn your degree during the final semester you apply for OPT. Students cannot engage in approved Post Completion OPT and study at the same time.

Important Notes

  1. You do not need a job offer to apply for Post-Completion OPT.
  2. You are given a total of 90 unemployment days during your approved OPT dates.
  3. If you decide not to apply for OPT after receiving your OPT recommendation I-20, you must notify the ISO. Failure to do so can result in loss of F-1 Status.
  4. All employment updates an personal address changes must be reported to the ISO within 10 days of the change. For information on how to submit employment information, please visit the following article: OPT Employment Update
  5. If you are currently on CPT and approved for Post-Completion OPT, your employment information will not automatically update from CPT to OPT.
  6. If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) for your OPT application, please submit a copy of all pages in the Terra Dotta System and navigate to the Request Center to find the Request for Evidence request. We recommend that students access Terra Dotta through a desktop/laptop device, as mobile compatibility is limited.