Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides F-1 students with an opportunity for hands-on work experience directly related to the academic field of study.
OPT used while you are still enrolled in your course of study, before your program end date, is called pre-completion OPT. Pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months of OPT eligibility, and most students prefer to save OPT for after program completion. If you participate in pre-completion OPT, USCIS will deduct that amount of time from your post-completion OPT authorization period. For example, if you participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT, you would be eligible for only up to 2 months of post-completion OPT.
OPT authorization that begins after completion of your academic program is called post-completion OPT. This is the most common type of OPT. If you are authorized for post-completion OPT, you may work part time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.
24-Month STEM OPT Extension
Students in their 12-month OPT authorization period, with a qualifying STEM degree and working for an E-Verify registered employer, may apply for a 24-month STEM extension of their OPT.
How to Apply
To apply for any OPT, an Adams State PDSO or DSO has to recommend the OPT in SEVIS which will result in a new endorsement on the student’s Form I‑20. Students will then have to properly file the Form I-765 online with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), accompanied by the required fee, and supporting documentation as described in the instructions. On 4/12/2021, USCIS announced that F-1 students seeking OPT can now file their form I-765 online if filling under the pre-completion, post-completion, and the STEM extension categories.
- Students must apply after your PDSO/DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
- May apply up to 90 days before you complete a full academic year, as long as you do not start OPT employment until you complete one full academic year.
- Students must apply within 30 days of the PDSO/DSO entering the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
- May apply up to 90 days before you complete your degree, but no later than 60 days after you complete your degree
Students can only begin work under OPT after USCIS has approved your Form I-765 and you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
OPT Application Checklist
The following OPT application document check-list is for students applying for pre-completion or post-completion OPT. Students applying for the 24 month STEM extension need to speak to a PDSO/DSO.
- Create your online USCIS account: https://myaccount.uscis.gov/
- Gather the following documents:
- Digital 2×2 color passport photo that meets USCIS specifications. Students can take passport photos at the Walgreens on Highway 160. Passport photos must meet the Department of State’s photo requirements detailed in the following link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html
- A scan of your passport photograph page.
- A scan of the front and back of any previous EAD cards (if applicable).
- A scan of any previous I-20s with CPT or OPT information (if available).
- A digital copy of your new I-20 with an OPT recommendation. You MUST consult with an Adams State PDSO/DSO to receive a new I-20 before filing for your OPT online. The I-20 must be signed by the PDSO/DSO and by you. You can use a digital or handwritten signature.
- Your most recent form I-94: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home. Select “Get Most Recent Form I-94”.
- A credit card with which you can pay the $410 USD filing fee. Students are responsible for all fees associated with OPT applications.
- File the form online: Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)