Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of work authorization that permits F-1 students to gain work experience in their field of study while in the United States. OPT is not a visa; rather, it is a type of employment benefit for F-1 students who are maintaining their visa status. In order to be eligible for OPT, students must first apply for an OPT recommendation I-20 from OIS. Upon receiving the I-20, students then mail their documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for adjudication. There are three types of OPT:

Pre-completion OPT Work experience that is permitted during the student’s academic program (before the student’s program end date that is printed on the I-20).

For additional information, please call OIS to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

Post-completion OPT Work experience that occurs after the student’s academic program ends.

Please visit the Post-completion OPT page for additional information.

STEM OPT Extension Additional 24-months of work authorization for students who are in an approved period of post-completion OPT and have a degree in one of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) majors on DHS’ STEM Designated Degree Program list.

Please visit the STEM OPT Extension page for additional information.