This type of optional practical training (OPT) is by far the most popular, and is available for a total of at least 12 months (or more) per degree level. Moving into a higher degree level resets the 12-month period. OPT can be used during breaks in study or after completion of your final degree requirement. OPT requires that you pursue employment in your area of study, but does not require a specific employment opportunity at the time of application. However, a period of 90 days or more of unemployment, in total, during post-completion OPT will result in loss of status
unless in a 17-month science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) extension (see below). Including the 17-month STEM extension, students may be unemployed for a total of 120 days. Any student on post-completion OPT must report changes in residential address and employment to the ISSFS within ten days of any change. Changes should be e-mailed to email@example.com
. See the link below for more information.
To apply for OPT you must first obtain Form I-20 from the office of International Students, Scholars and Faculty Services (ISSFS) documenting eligibility for OPT and subsequently submit an application for employment authorization to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You may not begin working on OPT until you receive the employment authorization card (EAD) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Applications for post-completion OPT may be filed within 90 days of the completion of study or during the grace period. NOTE: If you have not completed all course work for your degree and are unsure that you will complete your degree on time, you should not apply for post-completion OPT until you are sure or have completed your degree. Students may request for OPT to begin any date from one day after the date of completion of study to 60 days after the date of completion of study. Applications for OPT can take three months or more for the USCIS to approve so it is very important to plan accordingly. Students may not begin working on OPT until they are in possession of a valid OPT employment authorization card (EAD) issued by the USCIS.
Optional Practical Training Instructions
For instructions on how to apply for OPT and further information about rules and regulations you must attend a Practical Training Workshop at the IPO. See the IPO Newsletter for weekly dates and times.
F-1 Student Post-Completion OPT Responsibilities
All F-1 students on post-completion OPT must report the following to the ISSFS at firstname.lastname@example.org within ten days of any change:
- Any change in residential address and e-mail address
- Any change in employer
- Any change in employer address
- Any interruption in employment
In addition to the above reporting requirements:
Students in the 17-month STEM extension must report the following at the time of extension and every six months thereafter to the ISSFS at email@example.com:
- Current residential address and e-mail address
- Current employer (or report an interruption in employment)
- Current employer address
A loss of F-1 status will result from:
- Failure to provide the ISSFS with information about a change in address or employment within ten days of any change
- Failure to report address and employment information to the ISSFS at the beginning of any STEM extension and every six months thereafter
- Unemployment for a total of 90 days during the initial OPT period
- Unemployment for a total of 120 days during the initial OPT period and any STEM extension
| DHS Provided Chart for Employer Information
|Employed by one employer
||Provide your employer's name and address
||List all employer's names and addresses, indicate which employer is your primary employer
||Indicate you are self-employed and give the business address (which can be the same as your personal address)
|Students with performing arts degrees who have multiple short-term jobs (gigs)
||If self-employed, indicate this as "Self-employed performing arts student." Follow the directions below for sending your DSO a list of gigs on a regular basis. If working for an agency, indicate the agency as the employer and list the agency's address.
|Not currently employed
||Indicate "none" for the employer
A former student using post-completion OPT who is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition on his or her behalf is eligible to remain in the U.S. and work pursuant to OPT after the expiration of OPT if:
- A timely cap subject H-1B petition on the former student's behalf that is pending or approved;
- The start date of the H-1B petition is October 1 of the same calendar year; and
- The former student has otherwise maintained all the terms and conditions of his or her F-1 visa status.
Note that if the above-referenced H-1B petition is rejected, revoked, withdrawn or denied, the student's employment authorization immediately terminates and he or she enters the F-1 grace period
17-month OPT Extension for Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM)
Former students who received a degree in science, technology, engineering or math may be eligible for an additional 17-month extension of OPT, which they must apply for before the expiration of the initial period of OPT.
To qualify for a STEM extension a student must meet the following criteria:
- Currently employed during the initial period of post-completion OPT by an employer who is registered with the U.S. government's E-Verify program; and
- Has received a degree in a STEM field and employed in a position that directly relates to that degree; and
- Otherwise maintains all of the terms and conditions of F-1 visa status.
To confirm that a STEM field of study appears on your Form I-20, please contact the ISSFS. Visit http://www.dhs.gov/ximgtn/programs/gc_1185221678150.shtm
for more information on the E-Verify program.