Optional Practical Training (OPT)
This work authorization is only available to F1 students. If you are a J1 student, please review the Academic Training information to learn about your work authorization.
Three months prior to an international student's graduation, he or she may apply for Optional Practical Training. This practical training lasts for a period of twelve months and starts when the international student receives permission from USCIS. Students do not need to have an employment offer to apply for this permission, however, per government regulations, only 90 days of unemployment are allowable during the 12 month OPT period.
When And How To Apply For OPT
If you are an international student who wishes to participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation, there are some important rules you must follow. To ensure that you can receive your employment authorization on time, you should complete the steps outlined below.
The first step you must do is attend an OPT workshop. Attendance at a workshop is mandatory. You cannot meet with an International Advisor until you have attended an OPT Workshop. Workshops are scheduled every other week at 12:00pm noon, and 5:00pm. dates are listed on the main International Students page. During the workshop, information about OPT will be provided to students,and questions will be answered in a group setting.
You must apply for OPT at the International Programs Office no more than 90 days prior to your program end date (#5 on I-20), but it is recommended that you attend an OPT workshop earlier in your last semester.
Bring the following documents to the appointment with the International Programs Advisor:
- Completed I-765 form
- Completed OPT Request Form with advisor's signature.
- Two color standard passport photos with name and admission number written on the back; (do not trim the photos as the image will be scanned).
- A check drawn on a U.S. bank or money order
- Color copy of your visa(s)
- Color copy of your passport(s)
- Copies of front and back of your I-94 form or electronic print out
- Photocopies of all prior I-20 forms
The International Programs Advisor will confirm your eligibility before providing you with guidance as to a recommendation on the OPT forms.
You are responsible for mailing the forms to the Service Center. We recommend that you mail them by a traceable system such as registered U.S. mail, UPS or Federal Express.
Within 2 to 3 weeks you will receive a receipt notice. Keep this receipt that shows the LIN number. You can check the status of your application on-line at the website of www.uscis.gov.htm and check the case on-line.
Download the Guide to OPT from our Forms & Document (printable) section for further detail on OPT. If you have attended a workshop and would like to make an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request one.