Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a work authorization for students in the F-1 visa category. It allows an F-1 student to gain work experience related to the field of study listed on their I-20.
OPT can be authorized before (pre) or after (post) completion of studies. Most students save their OPT to use it after they complete their studies. Talk to OIE about your best option.
View the OPT PowerPoint (PowerPoint presentation)
If you have been a full-time student for at least one academic year, you are eligible for OPT. If you have previously been granted a full 12 months of CPT or OPT at your current academic level, you are not eligible for further authorization. If you were previously granted less than 12 months of CPT or OPT, you may be eligible for the remaining time.
Pre-completion: This means your OPT begins before you complete your degree program. When school is not in session, you may request full-time or part-time work authorization. Authorization during winter and/or summer vacation periods require that you both were enrolled full-time during the preceding semester and will enroll full-time for the next semester.
While school is in session, a full-time student working on course requirements may be eligible for part-time work authorization. Total employment, including any on-campus work and any OPT, cannot exceed 20 hours per week.
*Completion of studies is defined for immigration purposes as the date when you complete all the requirements for your degree; It is not the date you receive your diploma.
For undergraduates, it is the final day of examinations of your final semester.
For graduate students (MasterÔ€™s and Ph.D.), the completion date could be the final day of examinations of your final semester, or the date of defense or the date you submit your final edits to your academic advisor.
Exception to the rule: Graduate students who have completed all coursework and who have only their final project/thesis or dissertation remaining may apply to begin post- completion OPT prior their degree completion date. Please arrange an appointment with an OIE advisor to discuss this option.