Employment / Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an off-campus employment authorization for eligible F-1 students who wish to work in a job related to their field of study. OPT can be done during your studies (pre-completion OPT), after completion of your studies, (post-completion OPT) or a combination of both.

F-1 students with certain science, technology, engineering or mathematics degrees can extend their Post-Completion OPT. For more information, visit 24-Month STEM OPT Extension.

Pre-Completion OPT

Pre-Completion OPT is for eligible F-1 students interested in working off-campus before graduation where employment is related to their field of study or major.

Eligibility for Pre-Completion OPT

F-1 students are eligible to apply for Pre-Completion OPT if they meet all of the following requirements:

  • In valid F-1 status for one academic year (two semesters)
  • In good academic standing and not on academic probation: minimum GPA for undergraduates is 2.0; minimum GPA for graduate students is 3.0
  • Pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree; or I-20 approved certificate program
  • Not been granted 12 months of cumulative full-time Curricular Practical Training in their current academic program
  • Eligible to enroll in the next term and will graduate in a future term

When to Apply for Pre-Completion OPT

The earliest time you may submit a Pre-Completion OPT application to USCIS is 90 days before your requested start date.

Post-Completion OPT

Post-Completion OPT is for eligible F-1 students interested in working in the United States after graduation where employment is related to their field of study or major.

Eligibility for Post-Completion OPT

F-1 students are eligible to apply for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) if they meet all of the following requirements:

  • In valid F-1 status for one academic year (two semesters)
  • In good academic standing and not on academic probation: minimum GPA for undergraduates is 2.0; minimum GPA for graduate students is 3.0
  • Pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or a doctoral degree; or I-20 approved certificate program
  • Not been granted 12 months of cumulative full-time Curricular Practical Training in their current academic program
  • Has met or is in the process of meeting all graduation requirements (including English writing proficiency requirement, comprehensive exams, projects or thesis) and will no longer be enrolling in the next semester or session

When to Apply for Post-Completion OPT

The earliest time you may submit a Post-Completion OPT application to USCIS is 90 days before your graduation date.

How to Apply for OPT

  1. Attend a mandatory a Pre-Completion OPT or Post-Completion OPT workshop to learn more about OPT. Refer to the Employment Workshops page for the schedule. Attendance will be recorded.
  2. Download the OPT Application Packet and prepare all required documents.
  3. Submit the completed OPT Application Packet to the ISS office and allow time for processing. If you did not attend an OPT workshop, ISS will not accept your OPT Application Packet.
  4. Pick up your OPT Packet after receiving notification from ISS Office.
  5. Assemble your OPT Packet by signing and dating the documents, attaching your check or money order and envelope of photos.
  6. Mail your OPT Application Packet to USCIS within 3 business days of receiving your packet from the ISS office. USCIS may take as long as 90 days to process and make decisions on OPT applications.

Additional Resources on OPT

F-1 students are eligible to apply for Pre-Completion OPT if they meet all of the following requirements:

  1. In valid F-1 status for one academic year (two semesters)
  2. In good academic standing and not on academic probation: minimum GPA for undergraduates is 2.0; minimum GPA for graduate students is 3.0
  3. Pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree; or I-20 approved certificate program
  4. Not been granted 12 months of cumulative full-time Curricular Practical Training in their current academic program
  5. Eligible to enroll in the next term and will graduate in a future term

F-1 students are eligible to apply for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) if they meet all of the following requirements:

  1. In valid F-1 status for one academic year (two semesters)
  2. In good academic standing and not on academic probation: minimum GPA for undergraduates is 2.0; minimum GPA for graduate students is 3.0
  3. Pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or a doctoral degree; or I-20 approved certificate program
  4. Not been granted 12 months of cumulative full-time Curricular Practical Training in their current academic program
  5. Has met or is in the process of meeting all graduation requirements (including English writing proficiency requirement, comprehensive exams, projects or thesis) and will no longer be enrolling in the next semester or session
Applying for Pre-Completion OPT

The earliest time you may submit an OPT application to USCIS is 90 days before your requested start date.

Applying for Post-Completion OPT

The earliest time you may submit an OPT application to USCIS is 90 days before graduation date.

  1. Attend a mandatory a Pre-Completion OPT or Post-Completion OPT workshop to learn more about OPT. Refer to the Employment Workshops page for the schedule. Your attendance will be recorded in our records.
  2. Download the OPT Application Packet and prepare all required documents.
  3. Submit the completed OPT Application Packet to the ISS office and allow time for processing. If you did not attend an OPT workshop, ISS will not accept your OPT Application Packet.
  4. Pick up your OPT Packet after receiving notification from ISS Office.
  5. Assemble your OPT Packet by signing and dating the documents, attaching your check or money order and including an envelope of photos.
  6. Mail your OPT Application Packet to USCIS within 3 business days of receiving your packet from the ISS office. USCIS may take as long as 90 days to process and make decisions on OPT applications.

We are Here to Help

You can send us a message at any time and a staff member will get back to you soon, or book an appointment to speak with one of our advisors.

contact us  Schedule Advising
ISS Office Hours

Monday through Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

contact us Advising