Published: Feb. 13, 2017
Man fills out paperwork

For CU Boulder students on F-1 visas who are graduating this spring and considering pursuing the Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment benefit after graduation, applications are now open.

To help with the application process and related job search, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and Career Services have organized a workshop for Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Additionally, since many employers are not familiar with OPT, the upcoming workshop will teach attendees to effectively handle conversations regarding the OPT process with prospective employers.

Unfortunately, many employers are not familiar with OPT, and students applying for work under this authorization may have to educate prospective employers on the details of the OPT process. The upcoming workshop will educate attendees on how to handle such conversations effectively.

If you go

Who: Graduating students with F-1 visa
What: OPT workshop
When: Wednesday, Feb. 15, 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: C4C, Abrams Lounge

Registration is not required—just show up!

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training is work authorization for employment directly related to one's major field of study, as indicated on your Form I-20.

The initial/standard authorization is for 12 months. However, if you graduate with a STEM major (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), you can request to extend your OPT for another 24 months, for a total of 3 years OPT authorization.

How to apply for OPT?

To apply for OPT, you need to carefully review and follow the directions outlined by the USCIS. You can find the OPT application details on the ISSS website.

You will arrange this application together with ISSS and then send it to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for final approval. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

How to secure OPT?

For OPT, you must have maintained your F-1 status and completed your degree at CU. You will need to find an employer willing to hire you on your own and may have to educate the employer on the details of the OPT process.

Students seeking work under the OPT authorization should consider attending Career Services’ job fairs and industry events, conducting your own search on job portals, networking on LinkedIn and reaching out to your social network.

If you need help writing a resume or conducting a job search, make sure to visit Career Services and schedule an appointment with a counselor. A solid resume is a necessary component of the job application process.

If you have specific questions, come to the Feb. 15 workshop, email or visit an ISSS advisor during office hours, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.