F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the International Student’s major field of study.”
- An F-1 student is permitted a total of 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) per higher educational level.
- An F-1 student can start using OPT after having completed one academic year of full-time study and while still actively working on degree.
- This is categorized as pre-completion optional practical training (Pre-OPT).
- Any time used prior to the completion of a degree is deducted from the 12-month total for that academic level.
- An F-1 student may apply for post-completion optional practical training (Post-OPT).
- The application can be submitted within 90 days of the student’s anticipated completion date or within the 60-day period beyond their completion date.
- Be very careful that you understand the definition of completion date as listed above.
- Post-completion optional practical training work authorization permits an F-1 student to work in their field of study for up to 12 months after the completion of their degree requirements.
- Any pre-completion optional practical training time already used by the student will be deducted from the 12-month allotment.
- F-1 Students from STEM fields are also eligible for an additional 17 months of Post-OPT time (29 months in total work time) if they are employed by an e-verify employer.
- Student is limited to unemployment of 90 days during the 12 month-period of Post OPT and 30 days during 17-month STEM extension.
- F-1 students can only apply for STEM employment once they are within 90-120 days from the expiration of their Post-OPT work authorization.
- All STEM employment must be for a minimum of 20 hours per week in a job that is within the student’s field of study.
- The job may be paid or unpaid.
- All STEM jobs must be with an E-Verify Employer.
- The 17 month STEM extension is a one time benefit.
Download and print the OPT Handout
(pdf). The handout includes forms for completion and an explanation of the OPT application process.