Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training

If you have been in F-1 status for at least Two(2) semesters or one(1) academic year, you are eligible to apply for optional practical training (OPT) which is temporary employment in your current field of study for purposes of gaining practical experience.

You may receive twelve months of practical training for each academic level (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate) and 17 months extension may apply for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program. For part-time (20 hours or less per week) OPT only half time is deducted from the 12 months. (e.g. for four months of part-time OPT is equal to two months of full-time OPT)

You may apply for authorization for optional practical training directly related to your major area of study in the following cases:

During your annual summer vacation as long as you intend to register for the next semester. It is advisable to have a job offer at the time of application in this case. The job can be full or part-time during your annual vacation.

While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed twenty hours a week. You do not need to have a job offer before applying. Total number of work hours must not exceed 20hrs/wk, including on-campus jobs.

After completion of the course requirements except thesis/dissertation. Again, you do not need to have a job offer before applying for post-completion OPT.

For post completion OPT the application must be submitted 90 days prior or 60 days after the completion of your program or before the ending date of your I-20, whichever comes first. The start date of the OPT must be within 60 days of your program completion. Please be advised that you have to get the OPT recommendation from the Designated School Official before applying for the OPT. Therefore, please plan beforehand and consult with the Designated School Official at least 60 days before applying.

OPT-Application Checklist

  • Completed Form I-765
  • All previously issued I-20’s
  • Copies of passport, visa and I-94 card (Front & Back)
  • $380.00 check made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Photocopy of any previously issued EAD (Employment Authorization Document) if any.
  • Two color passport photos (The passport-style photos must be 2” by 2”. The photos must be in color with full face, frontal view on a white to off-white background.)

If you meet these qualifications, you can proceed with the application for practical training authorization. Upon completion of all the forms, the international student advisor will review your application and decide either to recommend or not recommend your application for submission to USCIS for adjudication. Application packets are available online or with the international student advisor. A new SEVIS I-20 will be issued with the recommendation of OPT. You will have to pick up your new I-20 form after processing has been completed.

13501018Unemployment Time
The time spent without a qualifying job during post-completion OPT. Except as noted in the section on what signifies as time unemployed, each day that the student is not employed in a qualifying job is counted toward the limit on unemployment time. The limit is 90 days for students on post-completion OPT including those with a cap gap extension, except that students with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) OPT extension are given an additional 30 days of unemployment time for a maximum of 120 days.

OPT 6-Month Reporting
An F-1 student with an Approved status Post-Completion OPT MUST report to the Designate School Official two times during the OPT:

  • The reporting due dates are 6 months and 12 months after the employment start date.
  • Two reporting periods encompass the due dates. They are 15 days before plus 31 days after each reporting due date. If an F-1 student fails to report by the due date during the reporting period, he/she will automatically be set to terminated status with a reason of “Failure to Report while on OPT” 32 days after the reporting due date.

Students’ Responsibility
As with all students on post-completion OPT, the student must report any change of address within 10 days, any legal name change, and interruptions of employment to the DSO. See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(12),(17).

Evidence of Employment
SEVP recommends that students maintain evidence — for each job — of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for the student’s supervisor or manager, and a description of the work.

Example 1Example 2
  • New job
  • Name of the employer
  • Start date of employment
  • Mailing address for the employer
  • Change to a new job
  • Name of the previous employer
  • Ending date of the employment with the previous employer
  • Name of the employer
  • Start date of employment
  • Mailing address for the employer
Please note that this is not a complete listing of information regarding OPT. Check with your designated school official or responsible exchange visitor officer for more information.

OPT application must be submitted to the USCIS within 30days of the OPT recommendation by the P/DSO, and should be mailed to the following address at once:

  USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100