Skip to content Skip to navigation

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an off-campus employment benefit for F-1 international students. You do not need to have a job offer to apply but your proposed employment must be in your major field of study.

 Students are allowed a total of 12 months of employment at every degree level. Students with degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) may be eligible for a 24 month extension of OPT. Students who have participated in 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training will not be eligible for OPT.

Employment is permitted only after you receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card), and only during the period specified on the card.

If you decide not to submit your application to USCIS after receiving the OPT endorsed I-20, please contact Bechtel International Center.

It may possible to withdraw the OPT application prior to approval by USICS.

Once the EAD is issued, it is not possible to change or cancel the authorized employment.

OPT processing times may take 115-120 days. Once the application is adjudicated, it will take 5-20 business days to receive final notice.  The EAD usually arrives within 3 - 5 working days after being mailed to the student.

Eligibility

 To be eligible for OPT, you must

  • be enrolled full time for at least one academic year prior to the start of employment,
  • be physically present in the U.S.,
  • be maintaining lawful status at the time of the application, and
  • intend to work or volunteer in a field directly related to your major field of study.  
***WARNING***  Working without an endorsed I-20 for OPT and a valid EAD card for the authorized dates is a serious violation of your legal status which could forfeit your ability to remain in the U.S. and bar you in the future from re-entry to the U.S.

You must posses a valid EAD and I-20 endorsed for OPT by the time you go to work.

Select a topic from the menu on the left for types of OPT and additional information.

 

OPT Videos