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Optional Practical Training

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Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization related to an F-1 student's academic program. Its purpose is to provide authorization to obtain employment experience in the field of study and to complement a completed degree. F-1 students qualify for an initial 12 months of OPT per higher degree level.

F-1 students may use OPT:

  • during a degree program (known as Pre-Completion OPT), OR
  • after the completion of course requirements (Post-Completion OPT)


For more information about OPT (including the differences between Pre-Completion and Post-Completion OPT, eligibility, and the application process), please review the ISS OPT Workshop.


When to apply

For post-completion OPT, you may submit your OPT request to USCIS from 90* days before to 60 days after degree completion.

Remember that in order to send your application to USCIS you must first request an OPT I-20 from our office. The USCIS takes an average of 90-100 days to process OPT applications. You may file the Form I-907, pay an additional $1,500 fee to USCIS for expedited processing. Do not promise an employment start date to a US employer that you cannot guarantee.

How to apply

Step 1 
Complete the ISS OPT Workshop and score 100% on the modular quizes. Learn basic information, eligibility for OPT, and how to apply for OPT in this Workshop. The ISS OPT Workshop is MANDATORY in order to apply for OPT benefits.

Please follow the instructions below to complete the workshop:

  1. Login to
  2. Click Courses on the left
  3. Click All Courses
  4. Click Browse More Courses at the top right
  5. Search for OPT.
  6. Click Join this Course for the course labeled ISS OPT Workshop
  7. Click Enroll in Course
  8. Click Go to Course

Step 2
Pay the $100 OPT Fee
This fee pays for the maintenance of your SEVIS record by ISS during the 12 months of post-completion OPT. In the event that your OPT application is denied by USCIS this fee will be refunded.

Students applying for pre-completion OPT are not required to pay the $100 OPT fee.
Step 3
Fill out the OPT I-20 request form and attach necessary documents (listed in the ISS OPT Workshop)

ISS will create your new I-20 recommending you for OPT and email you when it is ready to be picked up. You will then send it to USCIS with the rest of your OPT application documents.

Online I-765

USCIS accepts OPT applications submitted online. If you choose to file your OPT application online, read the USCIS instructions carefully and review your supporting documents before submitting. Do not submit a paper OPT application in addition to your online OPT application.

For additional information, please see the USCIS website here.

If you plan to file your application online and want your ISS advisor to review your application materials, please set up an OPT Document Review appointment at Before your appointment, complete the information on the online I-765., but do not submit your application.  

Premium Processing is available for Form I-765

File Form I-765 together with Form I-907 when filing online or by mail. There is an additional fee for this service. It is paid directly to USCIS.

OPT reporting requirements

Report your OPT employment

If you are currently on OPT, you are required to report employment and residential address information within 10 days of any changes. 

  • SEVP has stated that students on OPT who exceed 90 days of unemployment may have their SEVIS record automatically terminated. It is essential that you keep the ISS office updated with your employment information at all times to avoid negative consequences on your immigration status. You must report your employment by completing the OPT reporting form.
  • If you graduate from a STEM field, it is unlikely that your STEM extension will be approved by USCIS if you have exceeded 90 days of unemployment during your OPT period.


You must also explain how your employment is related to your field of study when reporting OPT employment. This information is required in SEVIS.

SEVP is also asking that you provide the EIN of your employer. This is not required information, but it can be helpful. An EIN is an Employer Identification Number usually used for tax purposes. Your employer’s Human Resources office should be able to provide you with this number.

If you leave the country or change status BEFORE your OPT end date, it is essential that you contact our office to let us know. If we do not close your record on time, it may be terminated for exceeding the 90 days of unemployment, which could result in unnecessary difficulties if applying for other immigration benefits in the future. If you depart the US, fill out our Departure Form.