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Optional Practical Training

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available to eligible F-1 students interested in engaging in employment in the U.S. directly related to their field of study after their degree completion. F-1 students are eligible for an initial 12 months of OPT per higher degree level achieved. OPT is not a visa; rather, it is a type of employment benefit for F-1 students who are maintaining their visa status. Students must first apply for OPT recommendation from the International Student Officer (ISO), Joshua English. Then, mail documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for adjudication.

Eligibility Requirements

  • One Year of F-1 Status: Students must have maintained F-1 status for at least one academic year

  • Previous OPT Approval: Students must not have had previous OPT authorization for the same degree level

  • CPT: Students must not have accrued 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for the same degree level

Application Timeline

OPT applications may be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing as early as (but no earlier than) 90 days before a student’s program completion date. Please note that USCIS requires approximately 3 months to approve an OPT application. It is highly recommended that students submit their OPT application to the ISO at least 3 months before their requested OPT start date.

All documents listed in the OPT Application Checklist must be submitted to the ISO to request an OPT I-20 before an OPT application can be submitted to USCIS for processing.

Applicants must choose their OPT start date at the time of application. A requested OPT start date can be as early as 1 day after the program completion date and up to 60 days after the program completion date.

OPT Reporting

F-1 students engaging in Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) must report their employment status and any changes to their address or phone number within 10 days of the change through the SEVP Portal:

  • Employment Status: Report your current employer’s information, employment start date (if applicable).

  • Address and Phone Number Change: Report your current U.S. residential address and local phone number.

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