Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Off-Campus Employment: 
Off-campus employment opportunities are restricted for F-1 international students so students should never accept or engage in off-campus employment without prior authorization from the Office of International Services. Any unauthorized employment - even for one day - poses a serious threat to your ability to remain in or return to the United States. You must always make sure that you have the necessary employment authorization before you begin work.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) 
OPT is an employment opportunity available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year. Watch the Optional Practical Training video tutorial and read below to learn the key aspects of OPT:

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  • OPT requires USCIS approval.
  • OPT may occur during or after a student's course of study. If occurring during one's course of study, the OPT is referred to a pre-completion OPT. If occurring after one's course of study is completed, the OPT is known as post-completion OPT.
  • Pre-completion OPT must be part-time during the student's studies and may be full-time during vacations and official school breaks.
  • Post-completion OPT must be full time.
  • No job offer is required in order to apply for OPT, but students cannot accumulate more than 90 days of unemployment while on post-completion OPT.
  • F-1 students must choose an OPT start date that is within 60 days of the end date on their Form I-20.
  • The application requires a recommendation in SEVIS by the Office of International Services.
  • F-1 students must file a Form 1-765 with USCIS and pay an application fee of $410. Applications for OPT must be submitted three months prior to when the student would like their employment to begin.
  • If the Form I-765 is approved, USCIS will issue the F-1 student an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Employment cannot begin until the EAD card is received and the start date on the EAD is reached.
  • OPT is automatically terminated when a student transfers to another school or begins to study at another educational level. OPT is also terminated if a student fails to comply with F-1 regulations or accrues more than 90 days of unemployment. 
  • F-1 students must inform the Office of International Services if they change or interrupt their employment for any reason by submitting the OPT Employment Information Form.  

For more information about the application process, please visit the Applying for OPT page.