Optical Practical Training (OPT)

Through OPT, F-1 students can gain hands-on work experience related to their academic field of study.  OPT can be done during your studies (Pre-Completion OPT), after completion of your studies (Post-Completion OPT) or a combination of both.

October 2, 2017
Students applying for OPT should take care to use the updated I-765 form. Previously, students without a Social Security Number (SSN) would have to wait for their OPT EAD card and then apply for an SSN at the Social Security Administration (SSA). With the new update, students without an SSN may apply for one on the Form I-765. Then, once the EAD is approved, USCIS transmits your data to the SSA. Students who follow this process should receive their Social Security card from the SSA within the following two weeks.


An F-1 student is eligible to apply for OPT if he or she meets all of the following requirements:

  1. Must have been in valid F-1 status for one academic year (2 semesters)
  2. Must be in good academic standing (GPA minimum undergraduate 2.0; graduate 3.0)
  3. Must be pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree
  4. Has not had 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training in the current degree program

Pre-Completion OPT

Although most students seeking opportunities off-campus during their studies apply for Curricular Practical Training, F-1 visa students may undergo periods of OPT prior to graduation. Optional practical training is limited to a total of 12 months. Part-time (20 hours or less) pre-completion optional practical training before graduation is deducted from the available 12 months at the full-time rate. Pre-Completion OPT is deducted from the student's authorized period of Post-Completion OPT. Please see your ISSS advisor for additional information.

Post-Completion OPT

Off-campus work permit for F1 students interested in working in the United States after graduation. Employment must be related to the student's major field of study.

12 Month OPT Application and Instruction

12 Month OPT Update Form   (ISSS Processing time is 2-4 days)

12 Month OPT Responsibilities and Reporting Requirements Form

24 Month STEM OPT Extension:

Some students may be eligible for a 24 month STEM OPT extension after their 12 month period of Post Completion OPT. For eligibility criteria and application processes, please read the links below and visit the  STEM Hub :

24 Month STEM OPT General Information, Eligibility Criteria, and Reporting Requirements

24 Month STEM OPT Extension Application

24 Month STEM OPT Extension Update Form   (ISSS Processing time is 2-4 days)