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” -- Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 214.2(f)(10)(ii). It is intended to provide students with practical experience in their major field of study during or upon completion of a degree program.
- There are two kinds of OPT, namely pre-completion OPT and post-completion OPT. Pre-completion OPT is authorized to be worked before the student’s program end date. Students with approved pre-completion OPT may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
- OPT after completion of the course of study will only be granted for full-time use. F-1 students may apply for post-completion OPT either up to 90 days before their program end date or up to 60 days after their program end date. The application must be properly filed within 30 days of the date the Immigration Specialist recommends OPT in SEVIS.
- No job offer is required to apply for standard OPT. The student must file a Form I-765 and pay a fee to USCIS. For other details on application for OPT, meet with the Immigration Specialist. If the application is approved, the student will receive an EAD card and can begin working. Students cannot begin employment until the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is actually received and the start date on the card has been reached.
- Optional practical training can be authorized for a maximum aggregate period of 12 months per educational level. A student becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level.
- The regulations state that “authorization to engage in practical training employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.”
- While doing post-completion OPT, the student must keep the Immigration Specialist informed of any name, address, or employer changes or any decision to terminate the employment early before the due date.
- Students on post-completion OPT cannot be unemployed for more than 90 days from the EAD start date. If the student whose approved period of OPT has started travels outside of the United States while unemployed, the time spent outside the United States will count as unemployment against the 90-day limits.
- If a student travels while employed either during a period of leave authorized by an employer or as part of their employment, the time spent outside the United States will not count as unemployment.
- Students on post-completion OPT may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program.
- F-1 students, who engage in an aggregate of 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training, however become ineligible for OPT.
- Student have a 60 days of grace period after the completion of OPT either to leave the country or to get into another program.
The Immigration Specialist (in the Registrar's Office) is here to assist you in understanding and maintaining your rights and responsibilities as an international student. If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to schedule an appointment with the Immigration Specialist please contact the Office of the Registrar at (562) 903-4720.