Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined in the 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii) regulations as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study."

There are three types of OPT:

An F-1 student must have been "lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis in a SEVP-approved college or university for one full academic year" to be eligible for OPT. During Pre-completion OPT, student must maintain a full course of study during the period of employment (unless done during school breaks).

Post-completion OPT is a benefit and extension of F-1 student status that permits you to remain in the U.S. after you complete your academic program with permission to work in your major field of study. Post-Completion OPT extends your F-1 status although you are no longer an enrolled student.

As a student in F-1 visa status, you are entitled to 12 months of Optional Practical Training. If you seek a higher degree, you will be eligible for another 12-month of Optional Practical Training.

Optional Practical Training requires authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The application process typically takes about 90 days. Keep in mind that it is illegal to begin to work in anticipation of being granted permission to do so; you must first have authorization.

Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 student visa status. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and, in some situations, may be subject to deportation. Therefore, you should consult with your PDSO/DSO prior to accepting any employment in the U.S.

Standard OPT (Pre-completion and Post-completion)

A job offer is not required to apply for Optional Practical Training. However, during Post-completion OPT, F1 visa status is dependent upon employment. During standard Post-- completion OPT, a student may not be unemployed for an aggregate of more than 90 days. For Pre-completion OPT, the student may properly file their application up to 90 days before being enrolled for one full academic year and up to 90 days prior to the employment start date.

For Post-completion OPT, the student may properly file their application up to 90 days prior to their program end date and no later than 60 days after their program end date, if they have not departed the U.S. The student must also file their application with USCIS within 30 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into his or her SEVIS record.

On April 12, 2021, USCIS announced "that F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online." This is the recommended process to submit your application.

Before submitting your application to USCIS, you are required to obtain a new I-20 endorsed by the P/DSO indicating that you are eligible for OPT. To begin your OPT application, submit your request for your new I-20 in GPS. Further information will be provided in GPS.

If you are considering OPT but need more information, you are welcome to discuss your plans with an adviser. You may stop by the office during office hours or email, intl@brynmawr.edu to schedule an appointment.