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Multicultural Center

Bldg. S, Room S136

Temporary Work Authorization for F-1 Students

Employment in the U.S. is authorized by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) for temporary work directly related to your major area of study. You are eligible to receive a total of 12 months of optional practical training for each higher degree.


If you have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year, are completing your associate degree and are in lawful F-1 status, you may be eligible to apply for optional practical training.

Your total period of authorization for optional practical training cannot be more than the equivalent of 12 months of full-time work.

Job Offer

An offer of employment is not required for optional practical training. Employment during OPT must be at least 20 hours per week and must be directly related to the course. However, 90 days of unemployment on OPT results in a student being out of status.

When to apply for post-degree practical training

You can submit your application to the USCIS up to 90 days before you complete your course of study or up to 60 days after your program end date. Processing time at USCIS varies and is usually about three months, so students are encouraged to apply early. If you apply after your program end date, you may not get the full 12 months of authorized employment.

Program End Date

Your completion date is the date you complete all the requirements for your degree. In the case of undergraduates it is normally your graduation date.

Starting Work

You may not begin work until you receive the EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) or before the beginning date listed on your EAD.

Travel Outside the U.S.

If you have completed your course of study, you must have your practical training authorization, EAD card, before temporarily leaving the U.S. Upon re-entering you must present to the border officials the EAD card and a valid I-20 endorsed for travel. That signature is valid for multiple entries and is valid for 12 months. It is also recommended that you carry proof of employment to avoid delays upon re-entry.

Notification Responsibilities

You are required by Immigration to report a change of contact or employment information to the Multicultural Center within 10 days. You must also notify us of any change in employment.

How to Apply

Submitting your application packet

Assemble your papers in this order:

Before mailing these documents, please make two sets of copies. One set will remain at the Multicultural Center and keep the second set for your files. We also recommend you send this packet via "Certified Mail" with return receipt. USCIS will send a receipt letter to you several weeks after they receive it. The estimated time at USCIS is 90-120 days, although this varies.

**We strongly recommend students mail items by "Certified Mail" to ensure proof of submittal.**