Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an off-campus employment benefit available to international students with F-1 visas. You must possess both an I-20 endorsed for OPT and a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) prior to starting employment.
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.
- Maintain lawful status at the time of the application.
- Intend to work or volunteer in a field directly related to your major field of study.
- Not have participated in 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training.
Additionally, when considering OPT, be aware of these related policies:
- OPT allows you a combined total of 12 months of employment at every degree level. If your degree is in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), you may be eligible for an additional 24-month extension of OPT.
- You are permitted to work only after you receive your 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 from Bechtel International Center, contact Bechtel immediately. It may be possible to withdraw the OPT application prior to approval by USCIS. Once the EAD is issued, it is not possible to change or cancel the authorized employment.
All OPT must be endorsed by Bechtel International Center and approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). It takes 5 to 10 business days for Bechtel to endorse your OPT I-20 and typically takes 90 to 120 days for USCIS to adjudicate your application. If approved, it can take up to 30 days to receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD); however, we find 5 to 10 business days more common.
USCIS accepts applications as early as 90 days prior to the proposed start date of employment provided you have completed one full academic year. A first-year student may apply up to 90 days before she/he completes a full academic year.
You must have your EAD before you can begin work. 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. Doing so can result in you forfeiting your ability to remain in the U.S. and bar you from future re-entry into the U.S.
Students on pre-OPT have no employment reporting requirements. Students on post-OPT and STEM OPT are required to report their employment within 10 days of the start date of that employment and their address, if applicable.
See Reporting Requirements for OPT for additional details.
Interstride - Employment Search Portal for International Students
Interstride is an interactive career platform that enhances the career exploration and job search process for international students and alum. The platform provides information on job and internship opportunities, job search, H-IB visas, building one's professional network, and more.
Sign in using your stanford.edu or alumni.stanford.edu email.
Post-completion Optional Practical Training
Post-completion Optional Practical Training (post-OPT) is authorized employment after you have completed your academic program (i.e., after graduation).