Optional Practical Training (OPT) Guide

I. OVERVIEW

 F-1 students studying at colleges, universities, conservatories, or seminaries may qualify for practical training, which allows them to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in their field of study.

 II. ELIGIBILITY

An F-1 student could be eligible for two kinds of Optional Practical Training:

 1.      Pre-Completion OPT, prior to the completion of all coursework excluding thesis or dissertation credits:

a)      You have been enrolled as a full-time student in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year.

b)     Your proposed experience (internship, work, practicum, etc.) is directly related to your major field of study.

c)      You will not be working more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.

 

2.      Post-Completion OPT, after the completion of all necessary coursework excluding thesis or dissertation credits:

a)      You have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year.

b)     Your proposed experience (internship, work, practicum, etc.) is directly related to your major field of study.

c)      You will be working up to 40 hours per week.

 

III. TO APPLY

1.      Read the OPT Tutorial in the Guides and Forms Library to better understand the OPT process .

2.      If you are applying for post-completion OPT, make sure that you have officially registered for graduation or can demonstrate that you are enrolled in only thesis or dissertation hours. If you do not end up graduating as planned, you are still responsible for maintaining your status on OPT and finishing your coursework during your OPT validity period.

3.      Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, found here: http://www.uscis.gov/i-765 Complete the form before your filing appointment. The OPT Tutorial contains written instructions and a sample completed I-765.

 

You will meet with an ISSS advisor during an OPT filing appointment to finalize your application and mail the materials to USCIS. A successful OPT application packet will contain the following documents:

a) A copy of your passport biographical page
b) A copy of your most recent U.S. visa
c) An original check or money order, made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $380

d) Two recent 2" x 2" passport-style photo, cut in 2” x 2” squares. Please write your I-94 number in pencil on the back

e) A copy of the front and back of your I-94 card. If you entered the U.S. after May 2013, visit: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html.  If you have changed your status to F-1, please bring your change of status approval notice.

f) The completed Form I-765

g) A copy of your new I-20 (printed and signed during your filing appointment)

h) A copy of any previous EAD cards, if applicable

When you have all of these documents ready request an OPT filing appointment.

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You may print off this guide here: OPT Guide