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Office of International Programs

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment for practical training that is directly related to the student's program of study. F-1 students may receive 12 months of OPT per educational level.

OPT Options

General Application Process

  • Review the requirements and processes for your selected OPT type.
  • Complete the appropriate forms.
  • Submit required documents to International Student, Scholar and Faculty Services (ISSFS).
  • Applicants for pre- and post-completion OPT will schedule an OPT appointment with the international student advisor at which their OPT application will be assembled.
  • Applicants for 17-Month OPT extension will assemble their own OPT application packet.
  • All students are responsible for mailing their OPT application packets to USCIS for processing.
  • USCIS processing time for OPT applications is approximately 3 months. If approved, USCIS will mail you an Employment Authorization Card for OPT.

Requirements During OPT

  • Limit unemployment
  • Employment is directly related to program of study
  • Report changes in employment and address

Unemployment

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) limits the number of days of unemployment permitted during OPT.

  • Students in standard OPT Period – Limited to a maximum of 90 days during the Post-Completion OPT period.
  • Students with a 17-Month OPT Extension – An additional 30 days is provided, limiting unemployment to a combined total maximum of 120 days during the 27-month OPT period.

Students should report all periods of employment to avoid unnecessary accrual of unemployment days.

Appropriate Employment

DHS has ruled that acceptable employment during standard OPT can include standard employment, contract employment, self-employment and volunteer positions. Employment during 17-Month OPT extension must be with an E-Verify employer. All employment must be directly related to the student's program of study and average no more than 20 hours per week for part-time OPT and average more than 20 hours per week for full-time. Please refer to the OPT Guide for more details.

Reporting Requirements

Students participating in OPT are required to report any change of official name, address, employer name and address, and change of employment status within 10 days of each change. Students participating in 17-Month OPT extension must also submit validation reports 6 months and 12 months after the start of the extension period. Failure to fulfill all reporting requirements may result in termination of F-1 status.  Refer to the OPT Guide for reporting instructions.

International Travel During OPT

Students on OPT must have the following documents to re-enter the US:

  • Valid, unexpired passport with an expiration date at least six months into the future
  • Valid, unexpired visa
  • OPT Form I-20
  • OPT Employment Authorization card
  • Proof of employment

DHS has indicated that a student may leave the US while OPT is pending, but if the OPT is approved the student will need the Employment Authorization card and proof of employment to re-enter.

ISSFS recommends that students do not leave the US while a 17-Month OPT extension application is pending.

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