Optional Practical Training (OPT)
All OPT must be directly related to your major area of study. If you are an international student, you may be eligible to participate in OPT in two different ways:
Pre-completion OPT: You may apply to participate in pre-completion OPT after you have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year at the University. You do not need to have had F-1 status for the one full academic year; you can satisfy the “one full academic year” requirement even if you had another nonimmigrant status during that time.
If you are authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT, you may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session. You may work full time when school is not in session.
Post-completion OPT: You may apply to participate in post-completion OPT after completing your studies. If you are authorized for post-completion OPT, you may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.
If you participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS will deduct that amount of time from your post-completion OPT authorization period. For example, if you participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT, you would be eligible for only up to 2 months of post-completion OPT.
Applying for OPT
The International Student Office strongly suggests that students apply for post-completion OPT during the last quarter of study before completing the degree.
To apply for post-completion OPT; you must submit the following documentation to the International Students Office (ISO) all at once:
OPT request form (typed and printed)
Money order or personal check made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" (NOTE: please do NOT use the initials USDHS or DHS) for the sum of $410.
Two (2) Passport color pictures (2x2). Please see the pictures requirements here. These may be done at any location that takes passport photos(exp. Walgreens or CVS, etc.). Write your full name and most recent I-94 number on the back of the pictures with a pencil.
Form G-1145 , E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (typed and printed)
Form I-765 , Application for Employment Authorization (typed and printed) and see Form I-765 Guidelines
Copy of unexpired passport
Copy of your visa pages and any U.S. stamping in your passport
Copy of your most recent I-94 arrival/departure record
Copies of ALL your current and your previous Form I-20s (from all schools you have attended). Make sure all Form I-20s are signed by you.
All documents should be single-sided. Do not use any staples.
Along with OPT required documents student is required:
Pay Graduation Fee
Clear any outstanding balance
Make sure to confirm with the Registrar Office that he/she has submitted all documents to his/her file (ex: official transcripts, original recommendation letter). If there are any documents missing student will be required to submit it as soon as possible.
When applying for OPT, the student may select an OPT start date. This date may be in a window of up to sixty (60) days after the completion of your academic program. This sixty (60)-day period is consistent with a student’s grace period during which the visa status remains valid.
Please allow up to seven (7) business days processing time in the ISO after your request is complete. You will be notified via email when you can pick up your application from the ISO.
Please note that you need to send the application packet to the USCIS within thirty (30) days of Form I-20 issuance.
Check USCIS Mailing Address and Instructions where to mail your OPT package.
We recommend that you mail your application package by express mail such as Federal Express or UPS, or by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, so you will have a record of its delivery.
It typically takes sixty (60) to ninety (90) days for USCIS to process your OPT application after they received it.
Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
Once your OPT is approved by USCIS, you will receive a small photo identification card called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card. This card will state the type and length of time for the authorized employment. When you receive this card, please check that the information is correct. If there are errors, you must contact USCIS and request a replacement card as soon as possible.
Beginning Your Employment
Students may NOT begin working before they receive their EAD Card from USCIS. Working before you are authorized to do so constitutes illegal employment and will jeopardize your legal status in the United States.
Traveling Outside the United States While on OPT
Traveling Before Your OPT is Granted
Students who have submitted their application for OPT must NOT travel outside of the United States while they are waiting for their EAD Card. Failure to remain within the U.S. while waiting for your EAD Card will result in loss of the F-1 status and cancellation of the OPT application.
Traveling After Your OPT is Granted
Students who have been granted OPT and have their EAD Card may travel outside of the United States. However, the following documents will be needed to re-enter the United States:
Form I-20 signed by the DSO for travel
A letter from the employer indicating that the student has a job, or a job offer, in the field of study and will return to the company to be employed
A valid passport
A valid F-1 Visa
Additional supporting documents
Upon completion of your OPT, you are granted a sixty (60)-day grace period. You may not work during this time. You must notify the ISO if you plan to leave the U.S. or if you plan to transfer to another program after your OPT.