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Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a 12-month temporary employment authorization that provides an opportunity for F-1 students to apply knowledge acquired from their academic program to a work experience in their major field of study. It is a benefit of maintaining status that is available during an F-1 student's course of study (pre-degree completion), after each degree level completed (post-degree completion), or may be used as a combination of both pre- and post-degree completion as long as one does not exceed the equivalent of 12 months of OPT authorization.

A 24-month post-completion OPT extension may be available to certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates who are employed by an employer that participates in the E-Verify program.

OPT must be recommended by the Center for International Services and approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS work authorization is issued in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) commonly referred to as an EAD card. The EAD is a photo identity card similar to a university ID or driver's license. It indicates the date an authorized F-1 student may begin employment and the date the student must end employment. For more information on the OPT process, visit the USCIS page outlining the process.

To begin the OPT filing process:

  1. Attend the Optional Practical Training Presentation.
  2. Get a recommendation letter from an academic advisor or department chair.
  3. Fill Form I-765. Sign in blue ink.
  4. Complete the Training Data Sheet & Student Responsibility Checklist. This form is fillable; please type responses directly into it. Read, check, and sign the Student Responsibilities Checklist in the appropriate section.
  5. Photocopies of your passport, visa, I-94 card, and any I-20s.
  6. If you were issued an EAD card previously (e.g. for previous OPT for your undergraduate degree, economic hardship employment), include a clear copy of your previous EAD card (front and back).
  7. Two identical, color passport size photographs with your name and I-94 number written lightly on the backs.   The photo cannot be taken earlier than 30 days prior to submitting your OPT application.
  8. Check or money order for $410.00 made payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
  9. Photocopy of current health insurance and documentation of health insurance coverage for at least the first 90 days of your requested OPT. Health insurance should include Medical Evacuation and Repatriation coverage; if your plan does not include this (e.g., POMCO), you may purchase a supplemental Frontier MEDEX plan. In general, students are expected to show coverage for one full academic year and renew their policy each year thereafter. A minimum of six months of coverage should be presented when applying for CPT.
  10. Complete Form G-1145 (Optional). Print and complete the form if you would like to receive an email and/or text message notification that USCIS has received your application. 

Once you complete the steps above, you can visit the Center for International Services for processing. Bring all of the documents listed above with you when you attend your appointment. If you will be submitting your application near the end of the 60 days after your program completion grace period, please discuss this with the center advisor at your appointment since your application must be received at USCIS no later than 60 days after your program completion date.

It is your responsibility to mail your OPT application documents; the Center for International Services does not mail applications on behalf of students. 

Are you currently on OPT or Academic Training? Update your address on MySlice and your employment information.