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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training is one type of work permission available for eligible F-1 students. It allows students to get real-world work experience related to their field of study.

For students engaged in post-secondary education or at conservatories. Twelve months of regular OPT is available for each higher level of study. (For example, a student may have 12 months for a bachelor’s degree and another 12 months for a master’s degree).

Types of OPT:
  1. Pre-Completion OPT: Any portion of OPT used before the student’s Program End Date. It may be part-time or full-time.
  2. Post-Completion OPT: Any portion of OPT used after the student’s Program End Date. It must be full-time (Recommended)
A student is eligible for OPT if:
  • The student has been a full-time student for one academic year in a SEVP-certified College, University, Conservatory or Seminary
  • The student is not studying English as a Second Language.
  • The student’s proposed employment relates to the student’s major area of study.
  • The student has not used all of the practical training available at the current level of study.
  • The student has not been authorized for 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
Students are strongly encouraged to apply for post-completion OPT 90 days prior to their program end date. Although the USCIS will accept your application up to 60 days after your program end date, you cannot begin employment until the application is approved and you have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). A delayed application may result in delayed work authorization and/or loss of full OPT eligibility (12 months) due to a 90 day average processing time by the USCIS.

Application Process: 
  1. Submit OPT Application Review Request from the button below
  2. Wait for up to 10 days for the OIE to review your application materials and issue an OPT I-20
  3. File application online or mail your application materials (online option strongly recommended)
  4. Wait for OPT to be approved
    • It takes about 90 days or more to receive your EAD card
    • If you do not receive your EAD card after 120 days, contact the OIE

Before applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT), first, review the eligibility guidelines below:

Check more information while you are on OPT:

Note: If you have already started a request, do not start a new request. Please go to your User Home Page to continue working on your request.