OPT Work Authorization
What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
OPT is off-campus employment authorization that allows F-1 students to gain work experience in the major/field of study in which they are currently studying.
You may use OPT during (pre-completion) or after (post-completion) your studies.
The maximum amount of work you are permitted is 12 months of full-time employment for each higher educational level you pursue in the U.S.
If you work part-time (less than 20 hours per week) before graduation (pre-completion OPT), your work time accrues at ½ rate (for instance, if you work part-time for six months, you’ve only used three months of your OPT).
Certain majors in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields also qualify for a 24-month extension of OPT after completing their post-completion OPT. Please refer to the STEM OPT page for more information.
Pre-and Post-Completion OPT
PRE-COMPLETION OPT: FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME AUTHORIZATION
During the summer vacation and semester break, you may apply to do either part-time or full-time pre-completion OPT employment.
While school is in session, you may apply to do part-time pre-completion OPT employment only.
You can apply for Pre-Completion OPT via the ISSS Pre-Completion OPT Intranet Form
POST-COMPLETION OPT: FULL-TIME AUTHORIZATION
Applied for during your final semester to begin after the completion of ALL requirements for your course of study.
Thesis/Dissertation Status: may apply for post-completion OPT if you are in thesis/dissertation status and have met all your degree requirements, except for the thesis/dissertation
You must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (spring and fall term).
You must be able to describe how the type of work you are seeking directly relates to your major. You do not have to have a job offer to apply for OPT, but if you are applying for pre-completion of studies OPT, it is wise that you be as sure as possible of a job so that you don’t waste any of your 12 months of OPT time.
You may apply for Post-Completion OPT up to 90 days before completion of your program of study, but not later than 60 days after. If you apply within the 60-day period after completion, you are likely not to receive your full 12 month OPT benefit due to USCIS processing times.
If you have already used 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you are not eligible for any OPT.
For pre-completion OPT, student must have a GPA of 3.0 or above (graduate students) or 2.0 or above (undergraduate students). Students must be in good academic standing and not on academic probation or warning in order to apply.
Applying for Pre-or Post- Completion OPT
STEP 1: CONFIRM YOUR PROGRAM COMPLETION IN WORKDAY
Graduation approval in Workday does not need to be processed by the Registrar for the OPT application. However, you should apply for program completion in Workday by the Registrar's deadline.
To confirm your program completion in Workday for your OPT Application, please follow the directions based on your graduation term:
SPRING 2023 GRADUATES: To confirm your graduation for your OPT Application, please ensure that your Expected Program Completion Date listed on your Workday Academics Tab matches that of the semester you intend to graduate in. If your Expected Program Completion Date does not match the semester you wish to graduate in, you will need to update it using the Graduate or Undergraduate Workday Guide.
STEP 2: COMPLETE THE OPT CANVAS COURSE AND THE OPT CANVAS QUIZ
If you need access to the Canvas course, please email [email protected].
STEP 3: SUBMIT OPT REQUEST FORM VIA THE ISSS INTRANET SITE
ISSS processing time is 10 business days.
Students who do not have their program completion confirmed in Workday per the directions in STEP 1 will be instructed to submit the requirements as part of the OPT Request.
STEP 4: RECEIVE YOUR NEW I-20
ISSS will issue you a new I-20 with the OPT recommendation. You will receive an email when your new I-20 is ready.
STEP 5: REVIEW AND SIGN YOUR I-20
Once you receive your new I-20, sign the I-20 on page 1.
STEP 6: GATHER AND PREPARE YOUR DOCUMENTS
Gather the documents found on the Pre and Post Completion OPT Application to USCIS Checklist.
STEP 7: SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION TO USCIS
Once you have gathered all your documents, you will submit your documents to USCIS. Since April 2021, USCIS has allowed OPT applications to be filed online. If you apply online and have not yet received your OPT I-20 from ISSS, your OPT application will be denied.
If you still prefer to mail your application to USCIS, please refer to the Pre and Post Completion OPT Application to USCIS Checklist for additional details.
REMINDER: 30 DAY RULE! Applications must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the issuance date on the I-20 and no later than than the end of the 60 day grace period, whichever comes first. Applications received by USCIS after the 30 days will be accepted and adjudicated but will be denied by USCIS at the end of the process. This is the most common reason for denial.
STEP 8: RECEIVE USCIS RECEIPT NOTICE
If you apply online, you will receive a receipt number as soon as you submit your application. A paper copy will be mailed to you as well. If you apply via mail, USCIS will issue an I-797C Receipt Notice within 2-4 weeks after receiving your application. You can check the status of your case on USCIS.gov.
Contact [email protected] if you receive any other notice, such a Request for Evidence (RFE) or rejection notice, from USCIS.
STEP 9: RECEIVE YOUR OPT EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION DOCUMENT (EAD)
If your application is approved, USCIS will mail you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for OPT, which will list the start and end dates you are authorized to work
Contact [email protected] if you receive any other notice, such a Request for Evidence (RFE), from USCIS.
Pre & Post Completion OPT Resources
Below you will find webpages for the OPT Filing Checklist, Frequently Asked Questions, and maintaining your SEVP Portal.
Pre & Post Completion OPT Checklist
USCIS now allows OPT applications to be filed online. You have the option to submit your application via regular mail OR file online. Do not submit two applications! Follow the OPT Checklist and instructions to submit your OPT Application to USCIS.
Tips, resources, and guides to completing the I-765 Form required for the OPT Application.
Employment and Reporting on Pre- or Post-Completion OPT
Once your OPT Application is approved, it is important to properly maintain your F-1 Status while engaging in OPT Work Authorization.
EAD Card Replacement
If you have received your EAD card and find that there is an error on the card, such as a name misspelling, birth date error, or the wrong OPT Category was issued, or if you have lost your EAD Card, please refer to the information on this webpage to request a new EAD Card from USCIS.
Apply for Pre-Completion OPT
Be sure to consult with an ISSS Advisor at [email protected] before applying for Pre-Completion OPT.