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F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Applications must be filed with United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) and are subject to application fees and significant processing time. Please discuss your plans with an ISO Student Advisor.

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Eligible students may apply for Optional Practical Training with a recommendation from their current institution. No job offer is required to apply and the work permission may be used at different employers during the authorized employment period.

In order to apply, you must:

  • Maintain valid F-1 status and normal progress toward your degree requirements
  • Have been enrolled in a full-time course of study for at least one academic year
  • Not have been previously authorized for 12 months of OPT at the current or higher degree level
  • Not have been authorized for more than 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

“Use It or Lose It”

OPT is a benefit of valid F-1 status and eligibility is directly associated with the current degree level. Therefore, once you change to a different immigration category or begin a new degree program, any authorized OPT period is forfeited.

Similarly, you may not save your OPT eligibility to be used at a later time.

Authorization Type

A 12-month period of OPT authorization is available at each higher degree level while maintaining valid F-1 status. Periods of full-time OPT may be granted in segments up to the full 12 months. Part-time OPT authorization is counted at 50 percent toward the total 12 months (i.e., two months of part-time OPT will count as one month of the total OPT).

Students moving to a higher degree program are eligible for an additional 12 months of OPT at that higher level.

Eligible students may apply for OPT under the pre-completion or post-completion categories. Please see OPT decision factors page for additional discussion of these authorization types.

Pre-Completion Authorization

  • During the academic year while enrolled in coursework (part time)
  • During the annual vacation period (part time or full time)

Post-Completion Authorization

  • After completion of all degree requirements excluding the thesis (full time)
  • After completion of all degree requirements (full time)