Optional Practical Training

Post Completion 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 post-graduation.

24-Month STEM OPT Extension

Eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students with STEM degrees from Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified and accredited U.S. colleges and universities may apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension. Interested F-1 students must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Post-Completion OPT Eligibility

  • A student must have been lawfully enrolled in full-time* status for one academic year preceding the OPT application.
  • A 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.

How to Apply for Post-Completion OPT

  1. Set up an appointment with a Designated School Official to file for OPT. Walk-ins are not permitted as sufficient time needs to be allotted to ensure for review and issuance of immigration documents.
  2. Gather all required materials on the OPT Checklist, this includes making your own copies, printing off a completed I-765 form, and signing the GEO OPT Waiver form.
  3. Bring all OPT application materials to your appointment, be issued a Form I-20 recommending post-completion OPT.
  4. Send your OPT application package to the appropriate USCIS service center, immediately, via priority mail. 

While Your Post-Completion OPT Is Pending

You may not begin work off-campus until you have been approved and are in receipt of your employment authorization document (EAD), also known as the OPT card issued from USCIS.

You may only engage in employment on the dates of authorization listed on the EAD.

OPT Reporting Requirements

While on any type of OPT you must continue to report changes in name, address, employer and loss of employment to your P/DSO within 10 days of any change.

  • Report address details through the SEVP Portal and Banner Webworld.
  • Report employer changes through the SEVP Portal.
  • Inform the P/DSO of employer changes in order to have an updated I-20 generated. 

STEM OPT Eligibility

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

  • You have been conferred your degree for your current period of post-completion OPT and it 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.
  • It is at least 90 days prior to your post-completion OPT end date.

How to File for STEM OPT Extension

  • Verify your current address, job title and employer information are updated in the SEVP Portal.
  • Submit a completed Form I-983 to your P/DSO.
    • PDSO will provide you with an I-20 recommending the STEM extension which you can print and include with all other documents listed in the checklist.
    • NOTE: I-983 does not go to USCIS, only to the university for your student immigration file, and should be kept on file with the employer.
  • Submit a filled out STEM OPT waiver form to your P/DSO.
  • Properly fill out the I-765 form for renewal and gather all documents on the OPT 24-month STEM Extension Checklist. 
  • Issuance of the I-20 recommending STEM OPT can take 5 to 7 business days from receipt of a properly and completely filled out I-983 training plan.

While Your STEM Extension is Pending

You may continue to work on your expired post-completion OPT EAD for 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 (you receive acknowledgement of receipt of application prior to your current post-completion OPT end date). 

STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

While on any type of OPT you must continue to report changes in name, address, employer and loss of employment to your P/DSO within 10 days of any change.

  • Report address details through the SEVP Portal and Banner Webworld.
  • Inform the P/DSO of employer changes through submission of a properly completed I-983 training plan to have your SEVIS record updated accordingly, and an updated I-20 generated. 

A complete list of STEM OPT Reporting requirements can be found here.