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Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary work authorization following completion of your degree and is designed to give F-1 students an opportunity to apply their knowledge gained through their educational experience.

OPT is not automatic – you must apply for it no more than 90 days prior to graduation and you are responsible for reporting your anticipated graduation to the OIE office and scheduling an appointment with the International Student Advisor for OPT processing, or, attend an OPT workshop held prior to graduation.

Throughout the year, OPT workshops are held prior to graduation with ample time to apply for your work permit card. Since immigration regulations may change, it is highly recommended that graduating international students attend one of these workshops to be sure they are knowledgeable about current rules and guidelines for the OPT experience and file the petition for the work permit effectively.

Authorization for optional practical training is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).  Your I-20 will be adjusted to request authorization to work after graduation by the OIE at the time of filing the request for OPT. 

You are authorized to work only upon approval and upon receipt of your work permit card / Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the USCIS.

Items needed in preparation for the OPT application:

  • A check or money order, payable to the Department of Homeland Security.  The current fee is $410.00.
  • Two, identical full-face, passport-style color photos, 2” x 2.”  Must be on white or off-white background, taken within the past 30 days. 
  • A copy (both sides) of your I-94 card.
  • 1 copy of your current I-20 and 1 copy of all previous I-20s from any institution.
  • Copy of your passport photo page and copy of your F1 student visa – photo page & port-of-entry stamped pages.
  • I-765 form – to be filled out at OIE at the time of your application

OPT Eligibility

U.S. immigration regulations require the following in order to be eligible to apply for work authorization:

  • Must be in full time student status for at least one full academic year prior to the submission of the OPT application
  • Must have maintained valid F-1 status at the time of the application, and
  • Must intend to work in a position directly related to your major field of study

In addition, students applying for OPT must also concurrently satisfy the following:

  • Must have no financial encumbrances on your student account at the time of the OPT application
  • Must be in good academic standing and approved for graduation; thus, you must bring verification of a letter from your Academic Advisor that you are cleared for graduation to the OIE