Office of International Programs, 160 Student Activities Center, 471 University Parkway, Aiken 29801 (803) 641-3671; Fax: (803) 641-3728; E-mail: email@example.com F1: Optional Practical Training (OPT) General Information Optional Practical Training is a work authorization benefit allowing F-1 students to gain up to one year of experience in their fields of study, generally after completion of studies. Employment must be directly related to the student's area of study. OPT can also be used before completion of studies during school breaks (40 hours/week) and while school is in session (up to 20 hours/week). If you are done with all coursework, you may be eligible to use full-time OPT while completing your research. Students who have maintained F-1 status for at least one academic year before applying are eligible to apply for OPT. • Your application is processed through USCIS and it costs $380. • You may apply up to 90 days before graduation or no later than 60 days after graduation. In either case, keep in mind that it takes USCIS an average of 90 days to process OPT authorizations. Before you decide to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you are required to attend an OPT workshop, which informs you of the application procedure and necessary information. Eligibility: • • • • Must be an F-1 student who has been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (9 months). Proposed employment must be directly related to the student's area of study. Must not have been granted full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for more than one year. Must not have been granted more than 12 months of full-time OPT at the same or higher degree level. When to Apply & Deadlines: • • • • Students may apply no later than 45 days after they complete their program of study. This is because USCIS needs to receive your application before the end of the 60 day grace period following your completion of studies. However, we recommend you apply before your I-20 expires. The completion of studies date does not always correspond with the date the I-20 expires. Completion of studies is defined as the last day of the term in which you complete the courses required for the degree, or if you are defending a thesis, the last day of the term in which you defend. The Texas Service Center, where applications are processed, accepts applications as early as 90 days before the completion of studies date. Early application is recommended to avoid processing delays. On-campus student employment must end no later than the completion of studies date. Reporting Requirements Students on OPT are required to report to USC's office of International Programs the following information within 10 days of any change: • Employer name and address • Residential address (and mailing address, if different) • Periods of unemployment You can report any changes to International Programs by submitting an OPT Update Form.