Office of Global Citizenship
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- What is the difference between Post Completion and Pre Completion Practical Training?
Pre Completion OPT is applicable to students who intend to do a paid practical training while they are pursuing degree. Post Completion OPT is applicable to students who intend to do practical training after graduation. Students receive a total of 12 months of OPT for each level of education. This can be divided between pre and post completion, or it can be entirely pre completion or entirely post completion. The majority of students do 12 months of Post Completion OPT.
- Who may qualify for Post Completion Practical Training?
A student who has been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year, is on the graduation list, and is currently in F-1 status. Students in English Language Programs do not qualify for OPT.
- Where and when do I submit my application?
You must submit your OPT packet to the Office of Global Citizenship for review. Upon review, you will receive a new I-20, and you must submit this, along with all other documents, to the USCIS Service Center, which will issue an EAD card if approved. The application may be submitted up to 90 days before your program end date or 60 days after.
- Do I need a job offer to apply for OPT?
No, you do not.
- Do I have to be in the U.S. when I apply for OPT?
Yes. You must be physically present in the United States when you apply for OPT and when USCIS receives your application.
- What address do I need to put on my OPT application?
You need to use an address where you will be present for the next four months. If a student plans to move, he/she should use the PDSO or DSO university address on the application. If a student does move and does not provide USCIS with the new address, the EAD will be returned to USCIS.
- How much is the application fee?
It is currently $410 and must be paid by check or money order, payable to Department of Homeland Security. The fee changes consistently, so please verify the fee at the USCIS Web Site.
- What is the phone number of the USCIS Service Center?
- How long is the EAD card authorized?
An EAD card may be authorized for an F-1 student for 12 months of practical training.
- How many times can I do OPT?
An F-1 student is eligible for 12 months of practical training at each educational level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral). Students in STEM fields can apply for a 24-month extension, past the initial 12 months of OPT. More information on the STEM extension may be found at STEM OPT Extension.
- When may I start working?
You may only begin working after you receive the EAD card and only from the start date established on the card. You may not work past the end date listed on the EAD.
- When must I complete my OPT?
You must complete all practical training within 14 months after graduation.
- Can I leave the country while my OPT application is pending?
Yes, you can, but it is not recommended to travel with a pending OPT application after graduation. More information can be found at Traveling While on OPT.
- Can I change employers while on OPT?
Yes you can. You must report any and all changes in employment to the International Student Advisor at Sewanee. Please review Reporting Requirements While on OPT.
- Where may I obtain a packet for an OPT application?
You may download the OPT Application Packet