Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in your degree program to off-campus work in your major field. OPT is authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This authorization can take 2 to 3 months to obtain. The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level plus a possible 17 months STEM extension for those who hold qualifying degrees. Any OPT used prior to program completion counts against the maximum of 12 months post completion.
- ● Students must have been enrolled in a degree program for a full academic year and be in valid F-1 status at the time of application.
- ● You do not need to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT.
- ● Employment while on OPT must be directly related to your major area of study.
- ● The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level plus a possible 17 month extension for those who qualify.
- ● You may not begin working until you receive the OPT card and the start date on the card has been reached.
- ● You may change jobs during the 12 months.
When to Apply
You may apply up to 90 days before your graduation date and the immigration service must receive your application no later than 60 days beyond your graduation date or 60 days beyond the end date of your I-20 (whichever is earlier) or, if you are an advanced graduate student, no later than 60 days beyond the last day that you are registered as a student.
Applying for OPT
- ● Step One
- a. Pick up the OPT application at the Olivet International Student Office (OISO) and read through the entire application.
- b. Ask your academic advisor to fill out the "Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form".
- c. Fill out the "ISO information sheet" and Form I-765 (Please read important instructions for filling out the I-765).
- ● Step Two
Bring all the items completed in “Step One” to the OISO and sign in to speak with the Advisor on duty. The OISO advisor will print out a new I-20 for you which will include our “ISO Advisor Recommendation” for your OPT on page 3. You will send a copy of this new I-20 with your application.
- ● Step Three
Make a photocopy of all of the documents in the application for your records.
- ● Step Four
Mail in the following documents so that they are received by the immigration service no more than 60 days beyond your graduation date or no more than 60 days beyond the end date on your I-20 (whichever is earlier).
- ● A photocopy of pages 1 & 3 of the SEVIS I-20 with the ISO Advisor's recommendation for Optional Practical Training on page 3.
- ● A photocopy of both sides of I-94 Card or electronic form.
- ● A copy of photo page (identification page) of your passport also includes any extra pages that record extensions of the validity of your passport).
- ● A copy of the F1 visa page of your passport (even if expired).
- ● A copy of all previous I-20s that have been issued to you.
- ● A photocopy of your previous OPT card or other work card (EAD) if you have had one.
- ● If you are applying for the 17 month extension, you must also include a copy of your transcripts or diploma as long as it states the degree field.
- ● Two passport type photographs (Print your name and admission number lightly in pencil on the back of each photo, and put the photos in an envelope and attach it to the petition).
- ● Fee: The fee is $380. Checks may be made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. You may send a money order or a personal check drawn on a U.S. bank, no cash. Attach to the front of the I-765.