Frequently Asked Questions

When can I start working?

When your EAD card is in your hand and the start date listed on that card has been reached. You cannot begin even unpaid work before that date. You cannot work on the UVM campus between your program end date and your OPT start date.

How long can I stay in the U.S. after my OPT end date?

You may stay for 60 days unless you are approved for the STEM Extension, start a new educational degree program or change your visa type (for example, H-1B).

If I participate in CPT will I lose my opportunity for OPT?

If you accumulate more than 365 days of full-time CPT, you forfeit your OPT eligibility. However, that situation is very rare. Part-time CPT does not affect your OPT eligibility.

How will my employer know I am authorized to work under OPT?

Page 2 of your I-20 indicates the dates you are authorized to work. You will also receive an Employment Authorization Card (EAD), which is the legal document showing your eligibility for employment.

Do I need a job offer before applying for OPT?

No. An offer of employment is not required for Optional Practical Training. However, once the OPT start-date has occurred, the “clock” begins and you cannot accrue more than 90 days of unemployment during your 12 months of the OPT authorization.

When do I apply for Optional Practical Training?

It is recommended that you apply about 3 months before the date you wish to begin working. You can submit your application to the USCIS up to 90 days before the degree completion date on your I-20 (item 5 on page 1 of your I-20). If you have a traditional academic cycle (May graduate), it is recommended that you apply for OPT no later than March 15th. If you will graduate in December, it is recommended that you apply for OPT no later than the 1st of October.Processing time for OPT applications can be up to 90 days. Students are encouraged to apply for OPT in advance of the proposed employment date, or the anticipated completion of studies to avoid delays, disappointment and unnecessary stress!

What type of work can I do?

All employment must be related to your studies at UVM. Any work should be commensurate with your degree-level.  Paid or unpaid employment is permitted – be sure to keep documentation of all employment, internships (paid or unpaid), and volunteer activities while on OPT. 

Can I travel while I'm on OPT?

Yes, however be careful and check with OIE before any travel.  You should never travel outside the US while your OPT application is pending. Renewing your F-1 visa may be more difficult or risky while on OPT.  Everybody has a unique situation – check with OIE to learn how you can travel without any difficulty.

Can I extend my OPT?

In some cases OPT can be extended.  If your field of study or major is  approved by the US government as a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) and you work for an employer enrolled in the E-Verify program you may be able to extend your OPT – check with OIE for information on this process.  UVM is enrolled in E-Verify.

How can I transition from OPT to a work visa?

Students must be sponsored by their employer for a work visa.  Speak to your employer about sponsorship after you have established a good relationship with them.  Keep in mind there are filing deadlines for the H1-B work visa.  If you are working at a for-profit company you must apply for the H-1B by April 1st.