Optional Practical Training Complete Guide


OPT – Optional Practical Training is a particular period of time(generally 12 months), during which nonimmigrant students holding an F-1 visa and having completed at least 9 months of course work, are permitted to work.

Students with a STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degree can apply for a 17 month OPT extension.

However, a lawsuit in November 2014 challenged this extension and the court gave the U.S government time upto Feb 12th, 2016 to formulate new rules. This deadline was extended by 3 months.

An F-1 student is permitted to participate in 2 types of OPT:

1. Pre-Completion OPT:

  • The student has to be enrolled for at least one full academic year.

  • The OPT must be related to the students major area of study.

  • Students must work part-time while the school is in session and can work full time when the school is in recess / not in session.

2. Post-Completion OPT:

  • The student’s course must be complete.

  • The OPT must be related to the students major area of study.

  • Students can work full-time.

How do I apply for OPT?

You will need a recommendation for OPT from your Designated School Official(DSO).

Your DSO will give you a new Form I-20 with the recommendation.

Once you receive this, apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) with USCIS(U.S citizenship and immigration services) within 30 days.

Fill Form I-765 and apply for Work Authorisation.

USCIS will send you a Form I-766.

Once you receive your EAD, you can start work.


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