Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • Optional practical training (OPT) is an opportunity for F-1 students to obtain temporary off-campus employment in their major area of study. A specific job offer is not needed to apply for OPT, but the employment must be directly related to your major area of study.
  • You may be granted a maximum of 12 months of OPT in one educational level, and you may apply for another 12 months of OPT in a higher educational level. For example, if you were granted 12 months of OPT in conjunction with a bachelor's degree, you may apply for another 12 months of OPT for a master's degree.
  • You may split your 12 months into pre-completion and post-completion OPT, but you must file the applications separately.
  • An application for Pre-completion OPT applications may be submitted as early as 90 days prior to completing one full academic year. For example, if you enrolled in the fall term, you may submit an application for OPT 90 days prior to the end of the subsequent spring term to be able to receive work authorization in time to begin employment in the summer. Pre-completion OPT may only be authorized part-time (up to 20 hours a week) while school is in session. Part-time pre-completion OPT is deducted from the available 12 months of OPT at one-half the full-time rate. For example, if you receive 12 months of part-time pre-completion OPT, only 6 months will be deducted, leaving 6 months of full-time OPT after completion of study.
  • An application for post-completion OPT must be received by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no later than 60 days after your program end date.  You should file the application as early as possible, but not more than 90 days before the program end date.   Begin the application procedure outlined in the OPT Manual one month before filing your application for OPT with the USCIS.  

For more information:

United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 8, Sec. 214.2(f)(10)(ii)



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