Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows students in their F-1 status to gain practical experience and training in a field directly related to the major area of study before or after completion of program. Students are allowed a maximum total of 12 months of OPT, which may be completed all at once, or at several different intervals. (e.g., three months each summer)
Employment authorization is given in the form of a small, plastic card called an Employment Authorization Document or EAD. This card will show your photo and signature, and the terms in which employment is authorized. It will also specify the time period during which you are eligible for employment.
The initial 12 month OPT limit may be extended by 17 months, for a total of 29 months, for certain STEM degree holders (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Click here for instructions on applying for the 17-Month STEM Extension.
Eligibility for OPT:
Students applying for the STEM extension will be assessed a $200 international student fee for the duration of the 17 month extension.
These fees can be paid through SOLAR.
- Enrolled as a full-time F-1 student for at least one academic year and maintaining valid F-1 status.
- Employment must be directly related to your major field of study
- You must have a satisfactory GPA:
- 2.0 for undergraduate students
- 3.0 for graduate students
- Must attend the OPT Workshop (see OPT Workshop Schedule), and follow all of the steps indicated on the ‘Optional Practical Training Application Process’ handout.
Application Procedures for OPT:
Part 1 – Applying for new I-20 Form for OPT
The following documents must be submitted to Visa and Immigration Services. Please allow at least two weeks for processing:
- Completed and submit the OPT Application form to Visa and Immigration Services
- This form must be completed by you and your Academic Advisor.
- If applying for post-completion OPT, application must be submitted as early as possible – 120 days before the program end date or no later than 30 days after completion of studies.
Part 2 – Applying for EAD card
Step 1: Pick-up your OPT I-20 and review your requirements for submitting the I-765 with your Visa and Immigration Advisor.
Step 2: Mail the following documents to USCIS within 30 days of the issue date of Form I-20 for OPT (processing takes 90 days or longer) Please note that you CANNOT begin OPT without the EAD card.
- A money order, certified check or personal check for the amount of $380, payable to Department of Homeland Security
- Cover letter addressed to the USCIS processing center
- Completed Form I-765
- Completed Form G-1145 (this form is optional)
- One original Form I-20 issued for OPT
- Photocopies of all Form I-20 ever received (pages 1 and 3)
- Photocopy of current Form I-94 (both sides)
- Photocopy of identity pages in passport, including expiration date and most recent U.S. Visa
- Two identical passport photographs, with white background; see the Department of State’s guidelines
- Photocopy of any previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued to you.
*Important Note: Students who work without authorization are in violation of immigration status. According to the regulations reinstatement may not be approved by the USCIS after unauthorized employment.