Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study”.   It provides students with an opportunity to gain employment experience for one year following completion of their program of study.


Types of OPT

Pre-Completion OPT - is work authorization for a student who is enrolled full-time and has not yet completed their program of study.  Students who are eligible to register for the next term may be approved to work for less than 20 hours per week (part-time) when school is in session and more than 20 hours per week (full-time) when school is not in session. 

Post-Completion OPT - is work authorization for a student who has completed her/his program of study.  Graduate students can apply and engage in Post-Completion OPT while they continue to work on their thesis, capstone paper or comprehensive examination.

STEM Extension – is an additional 17-month work authorization for Post-Completion OPT for certain eligible STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) degree holders.


Who is eligible for OPT?

A student can apply for OPT if:

  • The student is currently in valid F-1 status.
  • The student has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year.


Who is NOT eligible for OPT?

A student CANNOT apply for OPT if:

  • The student is enrolled in an intensive English-language or certificate program.
  • The student has exceeded 12 months of full-time CPT.
  • The student has already received the benefit of OPT for their current program level.


OPT Information Sessions

PowerPoint Presentation on How to Apply for OPT


Upcoming sessions for the Fall 2016 semester are as follows:

1.Thursday, September 8, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. in Voyageurs South

2. Friday, September 9, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. in Voyageurs South

3.Tuesday, September 13, 2016 from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. in Voyageurs South

4.Wednesday, September 14, 2016 from 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. in Voyageurs South


Important Points to Remember

  • Students must allow 7 full business days after submission of a complete application for the Center for International Studies to process their request.
  • Students are responsible for making a copy of their OPT application for their own records, the Center for International Studies will only keep a copy of the materials required to issue the I-20.  Visit OPT Application Procedures.
  • Students are responsible for mailing their own application to USCIS within 30 days from the date the DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS (this date is shown on the signature line on your I-20).
  • If the student receives a Request for Evidence (RFE), the student may make an appointment with an advisor at the Center for International Studies for assistance.