Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) gives F-1 students an opportunity for work experience in the U.S. before and/or after completion of their degree. It is limited to a total of 12 months in a field directly related to their course of study. Students apply for OPT at the end of February/early March during the Senior year.
Students must obtain a Social Security card before starting any job.
F-1 students are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) if they have maintained full-time student status for at least one academic year.
Students can apply for OPT:
- during vacation period
- after completion of all course requirements
- part-time during the academic year and
- full-time after completion of the program of study.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) can be utilized at each education level (e.g. 12 months after completion of a bachelor’s degree and 12 months after completion of a master’s degree).
Part-time OPT allows employment for no more than 20 hours per week and enrolled full time.
Full-time OPT allows employment in excess of 20 hours per week.
Part-time OPT is calculated at one half of the full-time rate. Thus, six months of part-time OPT is seen as 3 months of full-time OPT.
- Students must have submitted their application to USCIS no later than 60 days following their program end date. It must be received by USCIS by this date or it will be denied.
- Students must complete their Practical Training within 14 months after graduation.
- Students do not need to have a job offer to apply for Optional Practical Training.
- Students who have engaged in one year or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are ineligible for Optional Practical Training.
For more information, please refer to the OPT Checklist and Guide for further steps.