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F-1 Optional Practical Training

You may be authorized for temporary employment through Optional Practical Training (OPT) while you are still pursuing your course of study and/or after you have finished your degree.

Practical training must be directly related to your major area of study. The total amount of time you may spend engaging in OPT is 12 months. Under certain circumstances, an extension of the OPT for another 17 months is available. You are allowed an additional 12 months of OPT if you move to a higher level of study (i.e., you get 12 months of OPT after a master's degree, and another 12 months if you do a PhD). You may be authorized for optional practical training:

  • during your annual vacation and other times when school is not in session if you are currently enrolled and eligible, and intend to register for the next semester
  • while school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week
  • after completion of course requirements (can be full time)
  • after graduation (can be full time)

Certain students may be able to apply for a one-time extension of OPT for an additional 17 months if certain conditions are met. For more information see STEM OPT Extension and 17 Month OPT Extension for Qualifying STEM Fields with E-Verified Employers Training.

Eligibility: You must have been enrolled full time in an academic program for at least nine months. Please note that if you plan to graduate in the summer, you must be registered for credits that require on-campus presence in the summer.  There is no exception to this requirement.  

To request permission to engage in OPT after having completed your course of study, you must apply during your last semester, either before completing your course of study or within 60 days of completing your program. You MUST submit your application while you are still in the United States. You are not eligible to apply for OPT if you have already graduated and have left the United States.

You must have an EAD in your possession before beginning work.

Preparing your application training PowerPoints:

Download the OPT Application Packet: OPT Application Packet

Bring in the completed forms to ISSS for processing.

Other helpful links: