Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization in the U.S. that is related to an F-1 student's academic program and limited to 12 months. The work done does not count towards course credit; therefore it is the student's option to apply for OPT. OPT is typically used after a student has completed his/her degree, though it may also be may used during a student’s degree program.


  • Students who have been fully-enrolled and in legal F-1 student status for nine consecutive months (a full academic year)
  • Students must not have used 12 months of full-time CPT
  • Work must directly relate to student’s academic area of study
  • Students do not have to have a job offer to apply for OPT


1. Pre-Completion – OPT used before completion of degree program

  • No more than 20 hours of work per week while classes are in session
  • During summer vacations and school holidays work can be full-time
  • Students still must be enrolled full-time during the academic year

2. Post-Completion – OPT used after completion of degree program

  • Must be full-time work
  • Start date must be within 60 days of program end date on your I-20
  • Limited to 90 days of unemployment beginning on OPT start date

Important Notes

OPT is limited to 12 months. Part-time OPT (20 hours per week or less) will be deducted from the available OPT at one-half the full-time rate (i.e., students who engage in pre-completion OPT will have that time--whether full- or part-time--deducted accordingly from any post-completion OPT).

Applying for OPT

For post-completion OPT, students can apply no earlier than 3 months prior to completing their program, and no more than 120 days before their chosen OPT start date.

To apply, a student must bring to the Office of International Student Services (ISS) the following:

  • $410.00 fee (check or money order only) made payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • OPT I-765 application form
  • G-1145 form (optional, but recommended)
  • I-20, passport, visa, and I-94
  • 2 passport-size photos taken no earlier than 30 days prior to application submission
  • If you have previously worked on OPT, you will need to bring copies of all other Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)

Timeline After Applying

  • Students will receive a receipt from USCIS and will be able to check the status of their OPT application using this receipt number and date on the USCIS website.
  • Processing time to receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is approximately 80 days after the date posted on the receipt.
  • Approved students will receive EAD in the mail at the address provided on the I-765 application.
  • A student can begin working ONLY after he/she receives the EAD card.
  • Students must report the following to their DSO while on OPT:
    • Residential address
    • Employer’s name and address
    • Start and end dates for each job held
    • Any periods of unemployment
  • All reporting must be done within 10 days of the change occurring

Please inquire at the International Student Services Office if you have any questions about OPT.

Reference Links

I-765 form

G-1145 form

Check status of application