International Student and Scholar Services

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training is temporary employment for training directly related to the student’s major area of study.

It is an opportunity for students to gain employment experience for one year following completion of their program.


  • Pre-completion Optional Practical Training: Work authorization for a student enrolled full-time who has not 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 Optional Practical Training: Work authorization for a student who has completed their program of study.  Graduate students can apply and engage in post-completion Optional Practical Training while they work on their thesis, capstone paper or comprehensive examination.


  • Students with valid F-1 status.
  • Students lawfully enrolled on full-time basis for one full academic year.
  • A student is not eligible if:
    • They are enrolled in an intensive English-language or certificate program.
    • They have exceeded 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training.
    • They have been authorized to participate in Optional Practical Training for their current program level.


The student must first submit the following to the Center for International Studies:

  • Optional Practical Training request (requires a meeting with your academic advisor to complete the form).
  • I-765
    • Please be sure you are using the 7/17/2017 edition (this is found at the bottom of the page).
    • We require that you download the form, type in the required information and print the form because USCIS scanners often misread handwritten forms, which could delay processing. The scanners do not read information that is grayed out, highlighted or corrected with correction fluid or tape.
    • Tips for filling out the form:
      Item Important information
      I am applying for ... Check “Permission to accept employment.”
      1. Full name Type your name in the appropriate boxes.  If your name does not fit in the box, please attach a "continuation sheet" with your name and I-94 Number on it and indicate the Part and item number to which your answer reflects and date/sign it.
      3. U.S. Mailing Address Please use your personal address.
      ONLY in the case that you plan to move in the near future, then use:
      Center for International Studies
      720 Fourth Ave. S, LH 101
      St. Cloud, MN 56301
      9a/b. Social Security Number

      If you already have a Social Security Number then select "Yes".  If you do, then you must also enter your Social Security Number in 9b. 

      If you do not have a Social Security Number then select "No".

      10. Issuance of Social Security Number If you answered "No" to 9a, and would like to be issued a Social Security Number at the same time as this application, then select "Yes" and also select "Yes" in 11.
      12.a/b and 13.a/b If you answered "Yes" to 10, then you need to complete 12a/b and 13a/b.
      14. Form I-94 Number Please enter your 11 digit I-95 number found on the I-94 print out screen.
      15. Have you ever before applied for employment authorization from USCIS? Check “No” unless you have previously applied for employment authorization through a U.S.C.I.S. Service Center Office. If "Yes", enter the dates of employment as listed on your previous EAD card.
      16-19. Last entry and current status Obtain this information from your current I-94.
      16. Eligibility The eligibility code for OPT is “(C)(3)(B).”


  • We require that you download the form, type in the required information and print the form because USCIS scanners often misread handwritten forms, which could delay processing.

An advisor at the Center for International Studies will:

  • Review the application.
  • Request employment authorization in SEVIS and issue a new I-20 (if appropriate).
  • Notify the student by email that their I-20 has been issued. The student must then gather these documents to complete their USCIS packet:
    • Copies of current and previous I-20s (old I-20s, pages 1 and 3; current I-20, pages 1 and 2).
    • Two U.S.-style passport photos taken with a white background within 30 days of filing your application.
      • Write your name and I-94 card number on the back in pencil.
      • Submit them in the envelope/folder from where they were taken. Include the receipt, if possible.
    • A copy of your I-94 Information screen.
    • Color copy of your valid passport with biographical and extension pages.
    • $410 application fee in the form of a money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security".
      • Do not sign the back of the money order.
    • Color copies of all previous Employment Authorization Document cards (front and back, if applicable).
    • Student Health Insurance Petition for Refund (if applicable)

The student must sign (in blue ink) the two sets of their new I-20 (one original to keep and one original to submit to USCIS)

The student is responsible for mailing their application packet within 30 days from the date the designated school official recommends optional practical training in SEVIS (this date is shown on the signature line on your I-20)

  • For U.S. Postal Service
    P.O. Box 21281
    Phoenix, AZ 85036

  • For Express mail and courier services:
    Attn: AOS
    1820 East Skyharbor Circle S
    Suite 100
    Phoenix, AZ 85036

Allow 7 full business days for processing a complete application.

Key points


  • Are responsible for making a copy of their application for their own records. The center keeps only a copy of the materials required to issue the I-20.
  • May make an appointment with a Center for International Studies advisor for assistance if they receive a Request for Evidence from USCIS.

Reporting Optional Practical Training employment

You must report your Optional Practical Training employment.