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 eligible for a maximum of 12 months. However, if a student begins a new academic program at a higher level (e.g., master’s after bachelor’s degree, or Ph.D. after master’s), the student is eligible for another 12 months of OPT.
Types of OPT
Reporting Requirements While on OPT
Limited Periods of Unemployment to Maintain Status
OPT Filing Window
Selecting OPT Dates
Duration of Employment Authorization
To be eligible for Optional Practical Training, you must:
Please note that students in English language training programs are not eligible for practical training. If you are uncertain whether you meet the eligibility requirements, please meet with international adviser/DSO.
OPT is available in the following cases:
Students on OPT are required to your international adviser/DSO any change of name or address, or any interruption of such employment within 10 days. Such reporting should be done using the OPT Reporting form.
During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT carried out under the post-completion OPT authorization.
A student will be able to file the OPT application up to 90 days before the degree completion date and up to 60 days after the degree completion date. However, the OPT application must be submitted to the USCIS within 30 days of the date on which the DSO issues an OPT I-20.
Pre-Completion: List the dates you actually intend to work. Your start date should be the earliest date that you could possibly begin work. Your end date should be the latest day that you could possibly work.
Post-Completion: If you are applying for post-completion OPT, you are given a 60-day grace period following the completion date of your studies. Therefore, for post-completion OPT, the beginning date must be within the 60-day grace period. For Ph.D. Students: You may request your post-completion OPT to begin as early as your thesis submission/defense date or as late as your graduating semester end date.
Employment authorization will begin on the date requested or the date the employment authorization is adjudicated, whichever is later.
Complete the online Optional Practical Training (OPT) Workshop. Once complete, print your final grade and submit with the additional documents listed below in Step 2 to your DSO. Instructions for printing your grades can be found in the resources section of the workshop.
Request an I-20 recommending OPT from your DSO. You may request an OPT I-20 by submitting the following documents to your DSO:
After reviewing the documents above, your DSO will prepare an I-20 recommending OPT.
Pick up the OPT I-20 after 3-5 business days.
Mail the following OPT application documents (in the order listed below) to the USCIS Service Center which has jurisdiction over the address you listed on Form I-765:
The following should only be sent if you have participated in CPT or OPT before:
Check all documents for completeness and accuracy. Be sure to sign Forms I-20 and I-765. Once your packet is assembled, you should make a photocopy of the entire packet for your records (Florida Tech does not maintain copies of OPT application documents). You should then clip or staple the packet together and mail to one of the following USCIS Service Center Lockbox Facilities:
|Choose the state which corresponds with the U.S. Mailing Address you entered on your Form I-765:||Mail your application to:|
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan,
Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah,
Washington State, Wisconsin, Wyoming, or Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
USCIS Phoenix Lockbox
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
For Express mail and courier deliveries:
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico,
New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, US Virgin Islands, or West Virginia
USCIS Dallas Lockbox
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:
For Express mail and courier deliveries:
|It is strongly recommended that you mail your application documents by Certified Mail with Return Receipt with the United States
Postal Services (USPS) or by courier service (for example, FedEx) to have proof that your application was received.
It is important to consult your DSO advisor prior to leaving the U.S., as immigration regulations can change at any time. Currently, the following documents are required to return to the U.S.
Please note: Your EAD will have a notation, “not valid for reentry to U.S.” This is printed on all EAD cards issued for OPT and simply means that the card alone is not sufficient for reentry to the U.S.
Pre-Completion OPT: You can travel and return to the U.S. with a valid passport, valid F-1 visa stamp and your OPT I-20 endorsed by your DSO adviser within the last six months. You do not need evidence of a job or a valid EAD issued by USCIS to return to the U.S.
The cap-gap extension of status applies to all F-1 students in all fields of study with pending H-1B petitions (whether the 12 month card or STEM extension) during the current fiscal year. For further details regarding your Cap Gap eligibility, visit our FAQ on the Cap-Gap for F-1 Students Finishing OPT.
NOTE: Certain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree holders may be eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT in addition to the regular 12-month OPT. For Further information, please refer to OPT Extension for STEM Degree Holders and complete the OPT STEM Extension Request form. Following submission of the request form, your DSO advisor will be in touch with you regarding your application for an extension.