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OPT Overview

Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides F-1 students with an opportunity for practical, hands-on work experience that is related to your field of academic study.


You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria:
  • OPT must relate to your major or course of study.
  • You are currently in F-1 status.
  • You have been enrolled in a full course of study for one academic year (three quarters, including final exams weeks) or will complete one academic year by the date the OPT approval begins.
  • You have not exceeded 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. (Part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.)
You are eligible for 12 months of full-time post-completion OPT per academic level.  You may apply for OPT authorization during your academic program, after your program is completed, or a combination of both.  You do not need a job offer before applying for the first 12 months of OPT. 

Example:  Satoshi wants to apply for 12 months of OPT after completing his AA degree at CCS, but he wants to also transfer to a 4-year university or college after completing his AA degree.  If he completes his AA degree at CCS, he is eligible to apply for 12 months of OPT after he completes his AA degree and then again after he completes his bachelor's degree at a 4-year university or college.

Things to Keep in Mind
  • You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, (i.e., you may have 12 months of OPT at the associate's level and another 12 months of OPT at the bachelor's level).
  • Your DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows the DSO recommendation for this employment.
  • You must apply for work authorization by electronically filing a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you a Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) upon approving your Form I-765.
  • Wait to start work until after you receive your EAD.