International Student and Scholar Services

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment (12 months) for training that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. It is intended to provide a student with practical experience in his or her field of study during or upon completion of a degree program.


  • Pre-completion OPT: 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 OPT: Work authorization for a student who has completed their program of study.  Graduate students can apply and engage in Post-Completion OPT while they work on their thesis, capstone paper or comprehensive examination.


  • Students with valid F-1 status;
  • Student has been a full-time student for one (1) academic year in an SEVP-certified institution;
  • 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 (CPT).
    • They have been authorized to participate in OPR 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.
    • $410.00 application fee in the form of a money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security".
      • UPDATE: USCIS will now accept credit card payment for the Form I-765.  If you would like to pay your application fee by credit card, please complete the following Form G-1450
    • 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: NFB AOS
    1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
    Suite 100
    Phoenix, AZ 85034

Important Points to Remember

  • Students must allow a minimum of 7 full business days after submission of a complete application for an advisor in the Center for International Studies to process their request.  The student will receive an email when their application is complete.
  • 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.
  • Students are responsible for paying for and mailing their own application to USCIS.  We encourage using a tracked mailing system (e.g., US Postal certified mail, FedEx, UPS) to ensure safe delivery.  
  • SCIS must receive the student's application within 30 days from the DSO's signature date on page 1 of the I-20. Failure to do so will result in an automatic denial of the application.
  • 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.
  • Once the student receives the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card), a copy must be submitted to the student's employer.
  • Employment (paid or unpaid) may begin only after a student has received the EAD card and the start date listed on the EAD card is valid.

Reporting Optional Practical Training employment

You must report your Optional Practical Training employment.