Optional Practical Training
Am I eligible?
You must have been a full-time student in good standing for one academic year by the time you will begin the employment.
You are eligible for 12 months of OPT per degree level. If you have used your 12 months of OPT in the same degree level, then you will not be eligible for an additional 12 months.
- OPT can be done prior to the completion of your studies and/or after you have completed your studies. Any OPT done before you complete your studies (called "pre-completion OPT") can be done part-time (less than 20 hours per week) and deducted at a half-time rate or full-time (more than 20 hours per week). Note that in most cases full-time work is not permitted while you are taking courses. Practical training done after your completion of studies (called "post-completion OPT") must be full-time.
You DO NOT have to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT, however keep in mind that your employment MUST be related to your major (s).
When should I apply?
Applications cannot arrive at the Immigration Service more than 90 days prior to your completion of studies and no later than 60 days AFTER the completion date. Your employment start date must begin within 60 days after your completion date. For example: If you completion your studies on May 20th, you must choose a start date between May 21st and July 19th for your OPT to begin. Since it can take up to 90 days for for your employment authorization to be approved, we recommend submitting your application to the OISS approximate 3 1/2 months prior to your employment start date.
How do I apply?
- Complete an OISS Application form and have your academic dean or advisor sign the form. These forms can be found on the forms section of our website. Choose either Pre-Completion Application Form (for work prior to completion of studies) or a Post -Completion Application Form. Be sure to answer all sections. Please be very careful choosing your dates. Dates cannot be changed after your application is submitted to the immigration service.
- Submit the above documents to the front desk of the OISS.
- Pick up your new OPT I-20 and I-765 form from the OISS. It will take the OISS approximately 1 week to process your OPT I-20 and I-765 form. You will receive an email from the OISS to your BC email when your forms are ready to be be picked up.
- Mail the required documents to the Immigration Service. A checklist of documents and address will be given to you with your I-20 and I-765 form. Note: The Immigration Service must receive your application within 30 days of the date your new OPT I-20 was issued (located on the bottom right hand corner of your I-20).
- Wait to receive your I-797 receipt and then your Employment Authorizaiton Document (EAD). A reciept called an I-797 will be mailed to you in about 2-3 weeks and will have a case number and information to track your case online. Once your OPT is approved in about 1-3 months, you will receive an approval notice and the EAD card separately. You are not allowed to work until you receive the EAD card and the start date has passed on your card.
What do I need to do once I receive the EAD?
- Bring or send the OISS a photocopy of the EAD (can be delivered in person, mailed, scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed at 617-552-2190).
- Report your address, employer address and any change of employment to the OISS. All students on Post-completion OPT are required to report their employer information, home address, and any change or interruption in employment immediately to the OISS using our on-line form. Students on post completion OPT may NOT accrue more than 90 days of unemployment during the 12 months of OPT. (Employment includes volunteer work, internships and part-time employment that equals 20 hours per week).
- Travel with the appropriate documentation. Travel outside of the U.S. after completion of studies while on POST completion OPT: While you are taking part in post completion OPT, you are still in F-1 student status. Therefore in order to re-enter the U.S. after you have completed your studies you will need the following documentation: 1. Valid F-1 visa in your passport 2. Employment Authorization Card 3. Job offer letter 4. I-20 form with a valid signature date within the last six months (you were given a travel signature when your OPT I-20 was created). If you do not have all of this documentation or you need to renew your visa there is additional risk with travel. Please consult the OISS before traveling.