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.

 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:

  • You have been enrolled as a full-time student in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year.
  • Your proposed experience (internship, work, practicum, etc.) is directly related to your major field of study.
  • 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:

  • You have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year.
  • Your proposed experience (internship, work, practicum, etc.) is directly related to your major field of study.
  • You will be working up to 40 hours per week.

 

To Apply
  1. 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.
  2. Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, found on the USCIS website here. Complete the form before your filing appointment.

 

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

  1. A copy of your passport biographical page
  2. A copy of your most recent U.S. visa
  3. An original check or money order, made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $380
  4. A copy of your I-94 number printout, found at www.cbp.gov/I94
  5. Two recent 2" x 2" passport-style photos, taken within the last 30 days, with I-94 number written in pencil on the back
  6. The completed Form I-765
  7. A copy of any previous EAD cards, if applicable

 

When you have prepared all of the above documents, make an OPT filing appointment. You must have an appointment to file for OPT.

Make an Appointment

You may print off this guide here: OPT Guide