Office of Global Citizenship

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Under existing rules, an F-1 student may be authorized to receive up to 12 months of practical training either pre and/or post completion of studies. Students in STEM fields may qualify for an additional 24-month STEM extension.

Requirements for OPT
  1. Students must have F-1 status
  2. Students must have a Form I-20
  3. The student’s status in the SEVIS system must show as “Active”
  4. Students must have completed at least one full academic year of study in the United States.  
  5. OPT employment must be directly related to the student’s major field of study.
Types of OPT

There are two types of OPT, Post Completion and Pre-Completion.
1. Post Completion OPT must take place after graduation. F-1 Students are allowed to work full time for up to one year to gain work experience in their field of study. F-1 students in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program may apply for an additional 24 months of OPT beyond their initial 12 months.
2. Pre-Completion OPT can be obtained prior to graduation and students are allowed to work 20 hours a week while school is in session and 40 hours a week during holidays and vacations. The amount of hours worked under Pre-Completion OPT is deducted from the student’s Post Completion OPT.

Stem Extension

On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule allowing certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees, and who meet other specified requirements, to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT. The 24-month extension will replace the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to STEM students.

Student Eligibility

  • Students must be in F-1 status.
  • Students must be currently working in a period of post-completion OPT
  • Students must have a bachelor's degree or higher degree in an eligible STEM field.
  • Students must have a job offer that meets the following requirements:
    The job is with an employer enrolled in the USCIS E-Verify program
    The job offers at least 20 hours of work per week
    The job will provide formal training and learning objectives directly related to your qualifying STEM degree
  • Students must be able to complete the I-983 Training Plan with their employer

If you are interested in applying for OPT or OPT STEM Extension, please do the following: 

  1. Read the Frequently Asked Questions on OPT or the STEM Extension.
  2. Download and review the OPT Application Packet NEW or the STEM Extension Application Packet.
  3. Submit all documents as outlined to the Office of Global Citizenship, Attn: Andrea Del Balso, for review.
  4. Arrange a meeting with Andrea Del Balso to receive your completed OPT packet and new I-20. Arrange this meeting HERE