Post-Completion Optional Practical Training
Post- Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to seek full-time employment appropriate to your academic major at the Associate degree level and the Bachelor degree level. The regulations allow only twelve months total of full-time OPT once per degree level which may be completed within a 14-month period following completion of studies. If you have participated in Curricular Practical Training or Pre-Completion OPT please discuss this with an International Programs advisor before applying for OPT. Students are eligible for 12 months of full-time OPT per academic level. For example, you may apply for 12 months of OPT after completing an Associate degree and then another 12 months after completing a Bachelor’s degree.
In order to be eligible for OPT you must meet the following requirements:
- Currently in F-1 status
- Enrolled full time and in status for at least 1 academic year (9 months)
- Graduation Audit done through Academic Advising
- Graduation Quarter Request submitted through the Student Portal
- Claimed major
- Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months (Expired visas do NOT prevent you from applying)
You may submit your application to USCIS as early as 90 days before your program end date and no later than 60 days after your program end date. It is recommended to apply as early as possible due to the USCIS processing times.
- Apply for graduation.
- Complete the Graduation Quarter Request through the Student Portal.
- Review all sections of this page for an overview of OPT as well as the Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States website.
- Gather the following documents:
- Form I-765
- Form G-1145
- Copies of all I-20s that have been issued to you
- Most Recent I-94
- Copy of F-1 visa or, if applicable, copy of USCIS Approval Notice for change of status to F-1
- Copy of passport information page
- Check or money order for $550 payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
- 2 passport style color photos
- Submit your OPT Request through the Student Portal prior to your second appointment.
- Make an appointment with an IP advisor via Starfish to have your documents reviewed and receive your new I-20 with OPT recommendation. During your appointment your IP advisor will review next steps with you.
- Mail your completed application with a copy of your new I-20 to USCIS within 30 days of receiving your new I-20.
Prior to mailing your application, make copies of all documents for your own records. Check USCIS website for mailing address.
USCIS uses USPS to send your Receipt Notice, EAD card, and all other notices to you. It is recommended to set up mailing tracking with USPS through their website. This way you can be notified via email when your card may be arriving. When approved you will be sent an EAD card or Employment of Authorization Document card. Do not begin working until you have reached the date on your EAD card. You may begin your employment on the date listed on your EAD card.
- Create your SEVP Portal Account. Around the time you receive your EAD card in the mail, you will receive an email from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) with a link to set up your SEVP Portal Account. If you have any difficulties accessing your SEVP Portal Account, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Report your OPT employment. You are responsible for reporting your employment while on OPT. Any changes in employment must be reported within 10 days of the change.
- Provide a scan of your EAD card to International Programs via the Student Portal. Choose “F-1 Practical Training” --> “EAD Upload”
- You are still on F-1 Status (OPT is a benefit of F-1 status).
- You may work anywhere in the U.S.
- You may have multiple employers.
- OPT is granted for full-time work (20 hours per week or more).
- There is a 90 day limitation on unemployment. You MUST work or volunteer for 20 hours or more per week and report this through your SEVP Portal. If you do NOT, then each day will count towards the 90 days of unemployment. Once you accumulate 90 days of unemployment, you are in violation of your status and must depart the US immediately.
You have a 60 day grace period to prepare to return home, transfer to a new school, or began a new program of study.
Transferring to a new school during your OPT period will automatically cancel your remaining OPT.
When is the OPT Workshop?
OPT Workshops are held every quarter. Please contact email@example.com for specific dates and times. If you are not able to attend the workshop, you may schedule an appointment to meet with an IP advisor.
Can I travel while waiting for my OPT approval?
While you are waiting to receive your OPT card, we recommend you not to travel outside the U.S. unless you have an emergency.
Can I travel internationally while I am on OPT?
If your OPT is granted, you should be able to travel with the following documents:
- Valid F-1 visa
- Passport valid at least 6 months into the future
- Valid EAD card
- SEVIS Form I-20 with valid travel endorsement from DSO
- Employment letter(s) - It is best to have an official letter of employment
*Time spent outside the U.S. counts towards your total 90 days of unemployment unless you are employed and take approved vacation or business travel.
Will I have medical insurance while I’m on OPT?
Students that need medical insurance, must pay the premium with NSC upon graduation, or by the time OPT has been granted, whichever comes first. It is important that there be no gaps in coverage. If you miss payment for one-quarter, medical insurance will be denied for the remainder of your time on OPT. If you need to purchase medical insurance while on OPT, please log into SCDGlobal and submit the Medical Insurance Request form.
How can I find out the status of my OPT application?
You will receive a receipt number of application from USCIS. You can check the status online at: https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do
Can I take classes while on OPT?
Students may study part-time while on OPT. If you are attending a new school, you must inform the school of your intention to take classes part-time while you are on OPT.
What happens if I am taking full-time classes (12 credits or more)?
Your OPT will automatically be cancelled and you will be out of status.
What if I want to transfer to a new school during my OPT?
Your OPT is automatically terminated when you transfer to another school. You must complete the Transfer Out Request via SCDGlobal to have your SEVIS record transferred to your new school.
How do I apply for Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training?
Students may apply for part-time Pre-Completion OPT which can be used to take an internship class or a practicum while still enrolled at North (prior to graduation). They should first schedule an appointment with an International Programs advisor to discuss eligibility requirements and the application process.