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
- Students must have F-1 status
- Students must have a Form I-20
- The student’s status in the SEVIS system must show as “Active”
- Students must have completed at least one full academic year of study in the United States.
- 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.
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.
- 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:
- Read the Frequently Asked Questions on OPT or the STEM Extension.
- Download and review the OPT Application Packet NEW or the STEM Extension Application Packet.
- Submit all documents as outlined to the Office of Global Citizenship, Attn: Andrea Del Balso, for review.
- Arrange a meeting with Andrea Del Balso to receive your completed OPT packet and new I-20. Arrange this meeting HERE.