International Services
Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary work authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical off-campus work experience in the student’s field of study for a maximum duration of one year per educational level.

Students may use some or all of the available 12 months of practical training during their course of study or save the full twelve months to use after completion of program. Authorization for optional practical training is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) – formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service or INS - and can take 90 day to obtain. It is important that students apply for the authorization at the earliest possible date through International Services.

In order to apply for OPT, F-1 students must be in full time student status for at least one full academic year preceding the submission of the OPT application, be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of the application, and intend to work in a position directly related to your major field of study.

>>> OPT Guide <<<

Application Process

How to apply  

  • Review chapters 1-3 of the OPT Guide to ensure that you fully understand Optional Practical Training (OPT) and to make certain you wish to apply for OPT at this time.
  • Within the appropriate timeframe (see page 6 of the OPT Guide), login to iStart and click on the “OPT Application” E-Form under “F-1 Practical Training”.
  • Carefully read and complete the OPT Application E-Forms as instructed.

When can I apply for OPT?

  • Pre-Completion
    • 90 days prior to the desired start date (no earlier than 90 days prior to having met your one full academic year)
  • Post-Completion
    • 90 days prior to completion of coursework or degree completion (graduation)
    • Or up to 60 days after the degree completion date
  • STEM Extension
    • 90 days prior to the end of the initial 12 months of OPT
    • Or up to expiration date of current OPT

OPT Extension and H1-B Cap Gap

For more information on the STEM OPT extension visit our STEM OPT page.

For more information on H1-B Cap Gap visit our H1-B Cap Gap page.

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