Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined in the regulations as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study." You are eligible to receive a total of 12 months of Optional Practical Training for each higher degree.
You are eligible to apply for OPT if you meet all the following conditions.
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 program of study. However, 90 days of unemployment on OPT results in a student being out of status. The total period of authorization for Optional Practical Training cannot be more than the equivalent of 12 months of full-time work.
Click here for details about OPT employment options.
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.
Your program end date is the date you complete all the requirements for your degree.
You may not begin work until you receive the EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) or before the beginning date listed on your EAD.
If USCIS has approved your OPT, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States and your valid I-20 endorsed for travel, passport and visa. It is also recommended that you carry proof of employment to avoid delays upon re-entry into the United States.
If you exceed the limits (90 days) on unemployment while outside the United States, you will not be eligible to re-enter the United States in F-1 status.
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.
You are responsible for making two sets of copies of all documents before mailing originals to the USCIS via Certified or Registered Mail. One set will remain at the Multicultural Center, and you should keep the second set for your files.