Optional Practical Training What is OPT? • Optional Practical Training (OPT): Temporary employment that is directly related to a F-1 student’s major area of study • OPT is F-1 status • Pre-completion OPT: Applicable to students who intend to do a paid practical training while they are pursuing degree • Post-completion OPT: Applicable to students who intend to do a paid or non-paid practical training after they complete program of study (granted for 12 months per degree level) • STEM extension OPT: A 17-month extension of OPT for students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors What is OPT? • Cap Gap Extension: Allows certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in the U.S. in F-1 status until the start date of their approved H-1B employment period, even if the OPT authorization and/or F-1 grace period would have otherwise expired before October 1. • H1-B: visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine. Student must have enrolled in a degree program for a minimum of 1 year prior to applying Eligibility & Requirements There is no job offer required prior to applying Student may apply even if visa has expired Student’s passport must be valid Student must remain registered for a fullcourse of study while engaged in Precompletion OPT (except during summer and winter break) Student can submit OPT application to USCIS anytime between 90 days before through 60 days after your program completion date. Program completion date is NOT graduation day; it is the day student completes all program requirements. Important OPT Dates USCIS needs to receive and key in OPT application information in their system before the 61st day of program completion date. OPT start date can be anytime within 60 days after program completion date. USCIS typically takes 60- 90 days to approve OPT application. During their busiest time (May-October), they often take longer than 90 days. Student may wait in the U.S. even if her/his 60 day grace period is over. Student must start working within 90 days of OPT start date. Example: Important OPT Dates Job has to directly relate to F1 student’s major field of study. Employment Full-time, multiple full-time, part-time, multiple part-time, unpaid, volunteer work are all OK to maintain OPT status as long as the cumulative work hours is 20 hours/week or more. If one job is secured to maintain OPT status, F1 student can take volunteer work that is not related to major field. All paid jobs have to relate to major field. Part-time non-matriculated, no-certificate program is OK during OPT. Studying OPT has to stop when F1 student enrolls in matriculated or certificate course.