IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:  HU and ISO have no influence over USCIS, the final arbiter of OPT approval. There are no guarantees that OPT will be approved and we have no interaction with USCIS beyond any Requests for Evidence they may ask you for.

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 Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), 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 
  • Plan to 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 your 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.