Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 and M-1 Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to a student’s major area of study. Under the prior rules, an F-1 student could be authorized to receive up to a total of 12 months of practical training either before (pre-) and/or after (post-) completion of studies. M-1 students may engage in practical training only after they have completed their studies.

What is the application process to participate in pre- or post-completion OPT?

  • Students must initiate the process by requesting the Designated School Official (DSO) at their academic institution to recommend the OPT. The DSO makes such recommendation by endorsing the student’s Form I-20 and by making appropriate notation in SEVIS, the system used to track F-1 students.
  • Students then file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If approved, USCIS will issue an EAD to the student.
  • The student may begin engaging in pre- or post-completion OPT only after an application has been approved and an EAD has been issued.