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Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students when the employment is directly related to the major area of study.

ISSS facilitates the OPT application process, but final authorization is processed by Immigration. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the application is submitted at least three months prior to the requested OPT start date.

  • Pre-Completion OPT – Is OPT used before degree completion – part-time employment that can only be full-time while classes are not in session.
  • Post-Completion OPT – Is OPT used after degree completion – issued only as full-time employment



  • Have maintained legal F-1 status for at least 9 consecutive months or one full academic year.
  • Not have used full-time CPT for 12 months or more.
  • Apply within 60 days of completing your degree.
  • Receive an I-20 with an OPT recommendation from ISSS and submit your application to USCIS within 30 days of the I-20 issuance.


  • Employment on OPT must be directly related to your major area of study and commensurate with your educational level.
  • You may not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment during your 12 months of OPT.
  • Total OPT time per degree level is 12 months; the 12-month allotment per degree level may be divided into various segments.
    • EXAMPLE: A B.A. student who completes 3 months Pre-Completion OPT during one summer is eligible for 9 months remaining after program ends.
    • EXAMPLE: If the same student then begins an M.S. degree in the U.S., he is eligible for a new 12 months of OPT. Any leftover (unused) OPT time from the previous degree level does not carry over to the new degree level. OPT time is not cumulative.
  • Part-time OPT is authorized for up to 20 hours per week; Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month limit at 50%.
  • OPT start date must fall within 60 days of program completion (this is not necessarily the same date as graduation day).
  • During full-time OPT, you may enroll in classes that are “incidental” to the employment; Do not begin a new degree program on OPT.


OPT Changes

  • Changes to the OPT start and end dates are not easily made. Please be certain of your anticipated employment start and end dates prior to scheduling your appointment with your International Student Adviser.
  • Changes may delay receipt of the EAD. Cancellation of the OPT Application must be submitted prior to issuance of the EAD; Application fee will not be returned.
  • Job change is possible; OPT is not related to a specific employer or place of employment. Submit changes of address to ISSS!