Students in a group listening to tour guide in Coca Cola business center

​Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training is a benefit for F-1 visa holders to work temporarily in the United States in a field related to your major. Different options exist for authorized off-campus employment, and getting OPT approval may be a good fit for your situation. Under OPT, you may not begin working until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with specific dates of approved employment. For each education level, you receive 12 months of OPT unless you qualify for an additional 24 months with a STEM degree. Optional Practical Training is granted through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which is a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Important OPT Details

  • You do not need a job offer prior to applying for OPT
  • You must have been enrolled full-time as an F-1 student for at least one academic year
  • You may use OPT before or after you graduate for a total of 12 months
  • The average time it takes to receive your EAD card is 2-3 months after your application is received by USCIS

Duration of OPT

  • For each degree level, you are eligible for 12 months of OPT
  • Certain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields are eligible to apply for an STEM OPT extension

Types of OPT

  1. Pre-Completion OPT: before you finish your degree program
  2. Post-Completion OPT: after you finish your degree program
  3. Combination: You are eligible to use OPT for both of the above as long as the total time does not exceed 12 months.

Report your OPT

While participating in Optional Practical Training, you must report your initial employer and any change in employment, change in address, or name change within 10 days.

OPT Reporting Form