Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment opportunity available to F‐1 undergraduate students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full‐time basis for at least one academic year. F‐1 graduate students can begin OPT when their course of study begins.
Note: OPT can occur during or after an F‐1 student's course of study.
- OPT requires USCIS approval.
- If occurring during one's course of study, the OPT is referred to as pre‐completion OPT.
- Pre‐completion OPT may be part‐time during the student's studies or full‐time during vacations and official school breaks.
- If occurring after one's course of study is completed, the OPT is referred to as post‐completion OPT.
- Post‐completion OPT must be full time.
- No job offer is required in order to apply for OPT, but students cannot accumulate more than 90 days of unemployment while on standard post‐completion OPT.
- F‐1 students must begin their OPT experience within 60 days of the end date on their Form I‐20.
- The application requires a recommendation in SEVIS by Office of International Programs.
- F‐1 students must file a Form 1‐765 with USCIS and pay an application fee.
- Applications for OPT must be submitted 3 months prior to beginning employment.
- If the Form I‐765 is approved, USCIS will issue the F‐1 student an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Employment cannot begin until the start date on the EAD. OPT is automatically terminated when a student transfers to another school or begins to study at another educational level. OPT is also terminated if a student fails to comply with F‐1 regulations.
- F‐1 students changing their OPT status from part‐time to full‐time or from pre‐completion to post‐completion will need to re‐apply using the process outlined below and pay the fee each time they make changes to their OPT status.
- F‐1 students must inform the Office of International Programs if they change or interrupt their employment for any reason.
The Application Process
- You must complete and sign the ESU OPT Request Form.
- You must complete the attached Form I‐765 which is the Application for Employment. Read the instructions carefully. The answer to Item #16 is – (c) (3) (A) for pre‐completion OPT and (c) (3)(B) for post‐completion OPT.
- You will need to get a money order or bank check made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.
- You will need to supply two U.S. style passport photos. Your name and admission number (the number on the form I‐94) should be written gently on the back of the photos in pencil.
- You will need to supply copies of ALL of your previously issued I‐20 forms. Make sure to include I‐20s that were issued from other schools.
- You will need to supply a copy of the front and back of your form I‐94.
- You will need to supply a copy of the ID pages (picture and expiration date) from your passport.You will need to supply copies of any previously issued Employment Authorization Documents (EAD card).
- You will need to supply a copy of your new ESU SEVIS form I‐20 once the OPT recommendation has been noted on page 3.
- Make two copies of all of your materials, including a copy of the money order.
IMPORTANT: All students must make an appointment with the Office of International Programs to apply for OPT. Walk-in appointments are not permitted for OPT applications.
It is the student's responsibility to gather the application materials listed above and mail them to the USCIS Lockbox having jurisdiction over the address you have put on the I-765.
USCIS will mail your EAD card to the address on the I-765. The address you use on the I-765 should be valid for at least 90 days (and sometimes more) because our experience is that government mail forwarded to another address is frequently lost.