Optional Practical Training (OPT)

The opportunity to apply what you have learned.

OPT is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. You may use some or all of the available 12 months of practical training during your course of study or save the full 12 months to use after you complete your studies.

Authorization is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and takes between 90 and 120 days to obtain, so it is important to apply as early as possible.

How to Apply

You must be in full-time student status for at least one full academic year before submitting, have a valid F-1 status, and intend to work in a position directly related to your major field of study.

  1. Meet with a DSO to get OPT Approval and an OPT endorsed I-20
  2. Complete the I-765 form. Be sure the address in item #3 will be valid for the next 90 to 120 days, as that is where your receipt and employment card will be sent. Mail from USCIS will not be forwarded by the U.S. Postal Service. Make sure that your signature does not touch any text or lines as it will be scanned for your work authorization card.
  3. Obtain a copy of your I-94 form (both sides), your visa, and identification pages from your passport.
  4. Make copies of all previous I-20s (front and back).
  5. Get two recent photographs of yourself per the attached instructions from USCIS (see sample). Write your name and SEVIS number in pencil on the back of the photos. Do not cut to size or staple.
  6. Write a check or money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." (Fee is subject to change.)