Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment authorization that is related to an F-1 student’s academic program. The work done does not count towards course credit; therefore it is the student’s option to apply for OPT. OPT may be used during a degree program as well as after completion of course requirements. The application process takes approximately 90 days for both initial applications and renewals.

Post-Completion OPT

  • The student must have been lawfully enrolled in full-time status for one academic year preceding the OPT application.
  • The student must be in valid F-1 status at the time of application.

*It is important to note that auditing courses, enrolling in correspondence courses and in absentia registration do not fulfill full-time student status requirements. Students who finish all coursework required for graduation and plan to enroll in absentia for the following semester must apply for OPT before completion of coursework.

If applying for OPT based on graduation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive your OPT application BEFORE the official completion/graduation date. Please apply early!

How to File:
  1. You will first need to set up an appointment with an International Student Advisor to file for OPT. Walk-ins are not permitted as sufficient time needs to be allotted to ensure you have gathered all proper documentation.
  2. Gather all required materials on the OPT Checklist, this includes making your own copies.
  3. Send your application to the appropriate USCIS service center and await adjudication.

24-month OPT STEM Extension:


You may qualify for an additional 24 months of OPT under the following circumstances:

  • The degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) program listed here.
  • The employer from which you are seeking employment uses the E-Verify program.
  • Your employer has filled out a form I-983 training plan.
How to File:
  • Update your DSO with your current address, job title and employer information.
  • Submit the completed Form I-983 to the DSO.
  • Properly fill out the I-765 form for renewal and gather all documents on the OPT STEM Extension Checklist.
While Your OPT STEM Extension Application is Pending:

You may continue to work on your expired EAD for OPT up to 180 days while your 24-month extension petition is pending if you meet these conditions:

  • You are currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
  • You properly and in a timely manner filed your application for the 24-month extension with USCIS.

Kindly note that while on any type of OPT you must continue to report changes in name, address, employer and loss of employment to your DSO within 10 days of any change.