Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to obtain employment in areas related to their academic major and degree level. Twelve months of OPT is available at each degree level.
NOTE: If you have used more than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you are not eligible to apply for OPT.
Post-Completion OPT Eligibility Requirements
- Occurs after completion of all degree coursework requirements, excluding thesis or equivalent; or, occurs after completion of degree.
- The proposed employment must be directly related to your field of study/primary major and commensurate to your degree level.
- You may not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment.
NOTE: Students enrolled in English language training or Certificate programs are not eligible for OPT.
How to Apply for OPT
Please follow each of the steps below to ensure that you apply for OPT correctly. If you have any questions throughout the process, please email your appointed OISS advisor or firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn the basics of OPT
Complete an OPT Information Session by enrolling in the online OPT training course in Canvas. To request enrollment in the course, please email email@example.com and include your full name and UNH ID number.
Submit an OPT Request through eOISS
Complete and submit OISS's online OPT Request Form
- Login to eOISS
- Under the heading F-1 Practical Training, choose "OPT Request Form"
- When completing your eForm, you will need to upload:
- Before submitting your eForm, please meet with your academic advisor.
- After you submit your eForm, your academic advisor will be sent an email notification to support your request.
Wait for OISS to review your eForm, issue your new OPT I-20, and give you the OPT Online Filing Instructions sheet.
- An OISS Advisor will review your eForm and contact you with any questions. This may take 3-5 business days.
- If appropriate, the OISS Advisor will issue a new Form I-20 with a recommendation for Optional Practical Training (OPT) on page 2 and send it to you with the OPT Online Filing Instructions sheet.
Pick up your new I-20 at OISS. *Don’t forget to sign it!
Prepare your documents for your application
Gather scanned copies of the following documents and have the files organized on your computer:
- 2x2 color passport-style photographs (no less than 30 days old)
- OISS recommends that you use the following USCIS photo tool to prepare your photo scan for the USCIS website: https://tsg.phototool.state.gov/photo
- Your most recent I-94 record: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home - under the “Get Most Recent I-94” section
- A scanned copy of your new OPT-recommended I-20 signed and dated by you and your OISS advisor
- A scanned copy of your passport bio-page
- A scanned copy of your F1 visa
- A scanned copy of your previous EAD (front & back) (if applicable)
- Scanned copies of previous OPT and CPT I-20s (if applicable)
Create your myUSICS online account and apply online
*To create your myUSCIS account, click https://www.uscis.gov/file-online/how-to-create-a-uscis-online-account
- Go to https://www.uscis.gov/i-765, then click Sign In.
- Click on myUSCIS
- Click on File a Form Online
- Select “Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)” and then click Start Form
- Click Next on the following page
- Click Start to begin your application
- Follow the OISS OPT Online Filing Instructions that your OISS advisor gave you for a step-by-step guide to completing the application.
- *Important: Your eligibility category:
- Select (c)(3)(B) Post-completion OPT
- *You must complete your online filing within 30 days from the date that your new OPT I-20 was issued.
- *Important: Your eligibility category:
NOTE: If you wish to file your OPT application by mail, please let your OISS advisor know, and they will review those instructions with you.
NOTE: Once authorization to engage in OPT has been granted and an EAD has been issued, authorization may not be rescinded or canceled. Consult with OISS before taking any action that may jeopardize your OPT.
For the Student
Change of Employer After Post-Completion OPT Has Been Authorized
You may change employers after you have begun OPT provided that the new job is (1) directly related to your field of study and (2) appropriate for someone at your degree level.
Within 10 days of accepting a new job offer, login to eOISS and complete OISS's online OPT Employment Update Form.
Within 10 days you must report to OISS if any of the following information changes:
- Legal name
- Living and mailing address
- Email address and phone number
- Employer name and address
- Job title or position
- Supervisor name and contact information
- Employment start and end dates
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will provide you with information about the SEVP Portal at the time of OPT approval. It is voluntary for you to enter your employment information into the SEVP Portal.
NOTE: Knowingly engaging in fraud or misrepresentation of employment while on OPT could have serious negative consequences on your immigration status.
For the Employer
The employer must report the termination or departure of the student to OISS. An employer must consider a student to have departed when the employer knows the student has left employment or if the student has not reported for work for a period of five consecutive business days without the employer's consent.
Travel Outside the U.S.
When you travel while on OPT, you must bring the following:
- Valid passport
- Valid F-1 visa
- I-20 (with travel signature less than six months old)
- EAD card
- Employment offer letter
- 2-3 of your most recent pay receipts
Resources for Job Search
Handshake - via UNH's Career and Professional Success
This career management system can be helpful in identifying potential employers who have hired international students to work in the U.S., as well as other countries.