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Optional Practical Training (OPT)


Post Completion OPT is intended to provide hands-on practical training work experience within the United States that is directly related to your program of study. OPT may only be used one time at each degree level, if approved by USCIS. You must be in F-1 status to apply for OPT. You can apply for OPT up to 90 days prior to your program end date. You can apply for OPT during your 60-day grace period. USCIS needs to receive your application prior to the end of your 60-day grace period.

Please Note: You must receive an I-20 recommending OPT from ISSS prior to submitting your application to USCIS. For detailed steps about receiving the I-20 and a tutorial on OPT Requests, please visit the OPT Request in the Request Center of this ISSS Portal.

Special Considerations

  • You must submit your application to USCIS within 30 days of the date ISSS has issued the OPT I-20.
  • Certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree programs qualify for an additional 24 months of OPT. Please review the STEM OPT Extension Information here.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must be in Active F-1 status. If you have a pending F-1 Change of Status, you cannot apply for OPT while your application is still pending.
  • You must be in your final semester of your degree program. Graduate students may apply for OPT after completing coursework while continuing thesis/dissertation. Most graduate students will wait until they are close to completing their thesis/dissertation to apply for OPT.
  • You cannot have been approved for Post Completion OPT previously at the same degree level.
  • You cannot have used more than a combined 364 days of full-time CPT at your current degree level.
  • If you submit an OPT application to USCIS without an I-20 recommending OPT, your application will be rejected.

OPT Employment Updates

Please Submit any Employment Updates in the OPT Employer Update Request in the Request Center.

All employment changes must be reported within 10 days. You may not begin employment until you have received your Post-Completion OPT EAD card in the mail. 


SEVP Portal Information

The SEVP Portal is a useful, but not mandatory, tool for F-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) meet their legal reporting requirements. To use the SEVP Portal, students must confirm with their DSO that their email address is accurately saved in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

 * STEM OPT students are not be able to add a new employer or change the start date with their employer but can update other information about an employer already in the system. 
SEVP Portal Overview

CLICK HERE for the OPT Overview presentation

CLICK HERE for the OPT Overview Tutorial
CLICK HERE for the OPT On-Line Application Tutorial
CLICK HERE for the OPT Mail-In Application Tutorial