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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary work authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical off-campus work experience in the student’s major field of study for a maximum duration of one year per educational level.

Authorization for optional practical training is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and can take 90 days or more to obtain. It is important that students apply for the authorization at the earliest possible date through the Office of International Programs.

In order to apply for OPT, F-1 students must be lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year preceding the submission of the OPT application, be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of the application, and intend to work in a position directly related to your major field of study.

How to Apply

First, you must apply for graduation in Spartanweb, under the academics tab.

You can apply for authorization for OPT employment authorization by clicking on "Forms/Requests" link on the left side panel of this page. Under "F-1 Employment Requests" click "Optional Practical Training (OPT)".

Carefully read and complete the OPT application as instructed.

When To Apply
  • Post-Completion
    • 90 days prior to completion of degree requirements (graduation) 
    • Or up to 60 days after the degree completion date
  • STEM Extension
    • 90 days prior to the end of the initial 12 months of OPT
    • Or up to expiration date of current OPT
It is highly recommended to apply as early as possible due to long USCIS processing times. Applying early gives you a better chance of obtaining your preferred start date. Delaying your application will not give you more time in the US.

IMPORTANT: Students must have received an  “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) and the "valid from" date on the EAD must be reached BEFORE starting any employment. Students must not work past the end date on the EAD card.

After You Apply

Post-Completion OPT:
  • You will receive a receipt notice in the mail from USCIS (Form I-797C)
  • Once you receive your receipt notice, you can check your OPT case status here:
  • You can check general USCIS processing times for OPT here:
  • You may only begin employment once you have your EAD card in hand and the "valid from" date on the card has been reached, and you must not work past the end date on the EAD card
  • You are required to report your employment information to SEVIS using the OPT (SEVP) Portal. By law, within 10 days you must report changes to: 
    • Your address or telephone number 
    • Employer information
  • You will receive an email from with information on how to create your OPT (SEVP) Portal account after your OPT request has been approved
  • You are allowed 90 days of unemployment total, starting from the "valid from" date on your EAD card

STEM Extension:
  • You will receive a receipt notice in the mail from USCIS (Form I-797C)
  • Once you receive your receipt notice, you can check your STEM OPT case status here:
  • The STEM OPT extension period begins on the day following the expiration of your standard post-completion OPT. If your STEM extension application is still pending then, you are authorized to continue employment for up to 180 days after the expiration of your post-completion OPT (8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv)).
  • You will be required to submit a validation report every six months to your International Student Advisor while participating in STEM OPT
  • DHS allows STEM OPT students an additional 60 days of unemployment during the 24-month STEM OPT extension period.
  • Report any change to you legal name, residential or mailing address, employer name or address, and/or loss of employment to your International Student Advisor within 10 days