Optional Practical Training for Students in F-1 Status
Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to obtain employment in areas related to their academic major.
12 Months of OPT is available at each higher degree level.
(Note: If you have used more than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training, you cannot apply for OPT.)
♦ The proposed employment must be directly related to your major field of study and it must be appropriate to your level of education.
♦ F-1 students who have been in lawful status for one full academic year may engage in OPT during any of the following times during the course of their study:
- During annual vacation times;
- Part-time (up to 20 hours per week), while school is in session;
- After completion of all course requirements, excluding thesis or equivalent;
- After completion of studies.
Students enrolled in English language training or Certificate programs are not eligible for optional practical training.
After completing one full academic year, students may engage in pre-completion OPT. Pre-Completion OPT may be full time during the summer. During the academic year, pre-completion OPT must be part time, unless as a graduate student, one has completed all course requirements and has only thesis or dissertation remaining to complete the degree program. The application process for pre-completion OPT is the same as described above. Allow sufficient time for USCIS processing.
Effect of Periods of Unemployment on F-1 Status
During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial post-completion OPT authorization. Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the entire 29-month OPT period. See below for more information about the additional 17 months of OPT.
Travel Outside the U.S.
An F-1 student with an unexpired EAD issued for post completion practical training and who is otherwise admissible may re-enter the US to resume employment after a temporary absence. The EAD must be shown in combination with a letter from the employer and an I-20 endorsed for travel and re-entry by OISS. OISS signatures for travel and re-entry are valid for six months while on OPT.