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Optional Practical Training (OPT)OPT is work authorization for practical work experience related to a student’s major. There are two types of OPT: Pre-completion and Post-Completion. No matter which type of authorization you apply for, the maximum amount of time that a student can engage in OPT is 12 months. F-1 students applying for OPT must have completed 1 full academic year of their program before being eligible for OPT. All OPT does not require the student to find a job before applying, but only 90 days of unemployment is allowed during the 12 months of OPT.
Pre-Completion OPT is OPT that is done before an F-1 Student’s program is concluded. Pre-completion OPT has the same restrictions as on-campus employment if approved. A student will only be able to work 20 hours per week while school is in session and up to 40 hours during school vacations and breaks. Pre-completion can be specified for up to 12 months and any pre-completion OPT counts toward the overall OPT 12 month total.
Post-Completion OPT is OPT that is done after an F-1 student’s program is over. Post-Completion OPT must be full-time and requires the student to be employed for 20-40 hours per week. Post-Completion OPT can be submitted to USCIS from up to 90 days before an F-1 student’s program end-date and up to 60 day after. A student can only participate in Post-completion OPT up to 14 months after their program end date. Post-completion OPT will end at the end of twelve months of employment or 14 months after his or her program end date, whichever comes first.
Applying for OPT is the same for both Pre and Post Completion OPT. Applying for OPT is a complicated process that is best done with the help of the International Student Advisor, so please make an appointment. The following documentation is required in order to apply for OPT:
- Copies of all former and current I-20’s
- Copies of all former EAD cards (if applicable)
- Letter from registrar or academic advisor detailing current academic standing and date of completion of studies
- Copy of Passport
- Copy of I-94
- Two Immigration Style (Passport) Photos
- OPT authorization I-20
- I-765 USCIS Work Authorization Application
- I-765 Filing Fee (Check made out to the Department of Homeland Security), the current filing fee can be found here .
Once all documentation has been completed, the application and supporting documentation will be sent to the USCIS service center for processing. OPT applications can take a significant amount of time to be returned, 2 to 3 months or longer in some cases, so please make sure to contact the international student advisor early in order to get your application in on time. Please contact the international student advisor for more information.