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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

This page offers information regarding the 12-month period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for which most students in F-1 visa status are eligible.

OPT is a benefit of F-1 student status that permits up to 11 months and 29 days of off-campus employment for the purpose of gaining practical experience in the student's chosen field. Post-completion OPT is for college seniors who are applying for work authorization after graduation. While the student may work for any employer in the U.S., the job duties must be directly related to the student’s major area of study and commensurate with the student’s educational level.

Students must have employment authorization to receive any kind of compensation at all from an off-campus employer. This includes a travel allowance, a food stipend, room and board, etc. Accepting any kind of compensation from an off-campus employer without OPT employment authorization is a violation of a student's non-immigrant status and can have serious consequences on for student's current and future status.

A student must apply for this option at least three months prior to completing the program of study, as it can take up to 90 days to receive OPT employment authorization. A secured job is not a requirement to apply for OPT, as OPT is not employer-specific.

Please note that you must be in the United States to apply for OPT. You cannot apply from overseas.

In addition, you must be enrolled in F-1 student status for a full academic year before being eligible to apply for OPT.

OPT applications are available at the International Student Department in Harris Hall. A complete OPT application consists of:

  • OPT application instructions.
  • I-765 US Government OPT application form to request your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card.
  • Fee of $380.00.
  • Current I-20 with signature from our International Student Advisor.
  • 2 color passport photos.
  • Copy of I-94.
  • Copy of passport.

For more information, please view the USCIS OPT guidelines.