Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Under existing rules, an F-1 student may be authorized to receive up to 12 months of practical training either pre- and/or post- completion of studies.
An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT after he/she has been enrolled for one full academic year. The pre-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s course of study. Students authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT must work part-time while school is in session. They may work full time when school is not in session. Please note: This option takes approximately 3 months to get approval from USCIS and costs $380 should you decide to submit an application. Because of this, students should make sure that CPT is not a viable option for them before applying for pre-completion. Go to our Forms & Instructions website for more information on CPT.
All students MUST meet with the ISO prior to filling out the paperwork for pre-completion OPT!
An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in post-completion OPT upon completion of studies. The post-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s course of study.The student must apply for optional post-completion practical training from ninety days before until 60 days after the of completion of study. Completion of study generally means the last day of the term in which the student is completing the course of study, it does not mean the end date given on a student's I-20.
Application Process for Both Pre- & Post- OPT
Please fill out the following forms as much as you can. If you are not certain about filling in the forms or have doubts regarding a particular question of the form, we suggest you leave the question blank. We can help you accurately complete these forms when you bring them to the ISO.
2. Completed Form I-765
3. Completed Form G-1145: This allows you to receive electronic notifications about your OPT application before you get
4. A copy of all your original I-20's
5. A copy of your passport (the biographical page with your picture is enough) and current visa. Note: these copies should be the actual size of your passport, not a computer generated blow up size)
6. A print out of your I-94
7. Two color photos. Click here for photograph specifications
After collecting all of the items above, you may bring them to the ISO anytime during office hours and someone will be able to assist you. After 1-2 weeks of processing, you will be created an 'OPT requested' I-20 and will receive an e-mail from our office asking you to schedule a one-on one appointment. At this point, a check or money order of $380 made payable to Department of Homeland Security will be required. Please do not prepare this until we inform you that your new I-20 is ready to pick up!
It is imperative that you schedule your appointment within two weeks of receiving the OPT appointment needed e-mail! Otherwise your I-20 may expire before USCIS receives it!!