Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment for practical training directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Additional information about OPT can be found on the USCIS website.

If you are interested in applying for OPT, please carefully review an overview of the application process on our OPT Application at a Glance webpage.

A student is eligible to apply for a total of 12 months of OPT per higher education level. Students may use a portion of the 12-month allotment of OPT time before graduation (Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training, also known as Pre-OPT) and a portion after graduation (Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, also known as Post OPT), as long as they do not exceed 12 months total per educational level.

Any time authorized as PRE-OPT is deducted from the 12-month allotment. If students use 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) in the same academic level, they will lose eligibility for OPT.

Students wishing to apply for Pre or Post-OPT will need to submit an application to ISSO for an OPT recommended I-20. Then, the students must submit the required documents to USCIS to obtain a Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

IMPORTANT: Students may only begin working AFTER they have received their EAD card AND the start date listed on their approved EAD card has commenced.

Note: If you do not apply for OPT at the end of your studies, you have a 60-day grace period beyond your program completion date. During this time you must either transfer your F-1 SEVIS record to another school, apply to USCIS to change your status to a different nonimmigrant classification, or depart the U.S. You cannot work during this 60-day grace period. If you depart the U.S. during this grace period, you will not be able to re-enter in F-1 status.