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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Overview

OPT is defined as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study." It is available before or after completion of the academic program, but different rules apply. Optional Practical Training for F-1 students is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience complementary to the academic program. An F-1 student is normally eligible for a MAXIMUM OF 12 MONTHS. However, if a student begins a new academic program at a higher level the student is eligible for an additional 12 months of OPT.

  • Certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree holders may be eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT time in addition to the regular 12-month OPT. For more information, please refer to STEM Extension.
  • F-1 students who engage in an aggregate of 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training at the same educational level become ineligible for optional practical training.
OPT is divided into three categories:
  1. Pre-completion: part-time or full time during annual vacation and other times when school is not in session (if the student intends to register for the following term). Part-time while school is in session.
  2. Post-completion OPT: part- or full-time after completion of course of study.
  3. 17-month extensions of post-completion OPT for certain STEM degree holders.

Requirements

To be eligible, you must:
  • Have been enrolled full-time for one full academic year.
  • Currently maintaining full-time program of study.
  • Valid F-1 visa status.
  • Be employed in job directly related to your major field of study Important OPT Reminders.
  • For pre-completion OPT, you can file the Form I-765 up to 90 days before being enrolled for a full academic year, as long as the OPT will not begin until after you have completed a full academic year. If you have been enrolled for a full academic year, you can file the Form I-765 up to 120 days prior to the requested OPT start date.
  • For post-completion OPT, you can file the Form I-765 up to 90 days before your program end date and no later than 60 days after your program end date.
  • The Form I-765 must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the date your advisor made the OPT recommendation in SEVIS (see page 1 of the printed Form I-20 for the date).
  • If you move and do not provide USCIS with your new address, your EAD will be returned to USCIS. To change your address, submit an online Form AR-11 to USCIS, and ask your DSO to update SEVIS.
  • Your OPT employment must be directly related to your field of study and cannot begin until you have the EAD card in hand (and the start date has arrived).
  • F-1 status is dependent upon full-time employment or volunteer service while on post-completion OPT. You cannot accrue more than 90 days of unemployment while on post-completion OPT. If you are close to 90 days, consult with your DSO.
  • You will need to continue to update your DSO with address changes and changes in employment while on post-completion OPT. Students are required to report any change of name or address or interruptions in employment within 10 days to the Oregon Tech International Student Services Office. Email updates to the International Student Advisor.
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