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International Student and Scholar Services

Employment

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorizes an F-1 student to engage in practical training for up to one year, generally following the completion of studies. OPT is authorized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

ISSS offers workshops to explain eligibility and the application process for OPT. Please visit the Events page for dates and times. 

TYPES OF OPT

Pre-Completion

  • Work authorization for a period that will begin and end before the completion of the degree program.
  • May work part-time (20 hours a week or less) while school is in session and full-time (more than 20 hours a week) during university breaks and the annual vacation term.
  • If Pre-completion OPT is combined with on-campus employment, total hours worked while school is in session cannot exceed 20 (part time).
  • Pre-completion OPT time will deduct from post-completion OPT eligibility, at a rate of half time, (e.g. If you work part-time 4 months you use up 2 months of OPT).
  • May apply 90 days before desired employment/OPT start date.

Post-Completion

  • Work authorization after the completion of the degree program. Many students use all 12 months of their OPT time during post-completion OPT.
  • May apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before graduation date and 60 days after graduation date.
  • Start date must be within 60 days after the program completion date.
  • Program completion date is the last last day of the term that you complete all degree requirements. Consult the university calendars for dates. For graduate students applying for OPT while writing a thesis or dissertation, contact an ISSS advisor to determine your program end date.
ELIGIBILITY

To apply for OPT, you must:

  • Currently be in F-1 status.
  • Have been a full-time student for at least one academic year.
  • Not have completed an academic program or degree at a higher level in the U.S.
  • Not have previously been approved for 12 months of OPT at the current degree level or higher degree level.
  • Not have completed 365 days or more of full-time CPT at the current degree level or higher degree level and,
  • Have completed ALL degree requirements excluding thesis or dissertation (post-completion only).
APPLICATION

You must receive an I-20 with an OPT recommendation from ISSS before applying for OPT. USCIS will deny your application if you apply before receiving the I-20 with the OPT recommendation from ISSS.

Step 1: Request OPT recommendation from ISSS 

Request an I-20 with an OPT recommendation by submitting the OPT Request in the OPT Application Packet and a copy of your I-94 to isss@du.edu

Step 2: Assemble OPT application materials

Use the I-765 guide to complete the paper or online I-765 form and the instructions in the OPT Application Packet to prepare the OPT application that you will submit to USCIS. 

Step 3: Submit your OPT application to USCIS (Online or by Mail)

Option 1: Submit Your Application Online

  1. Create and log in to your myUSCIS account.
  2. Complete the online I-765. Complete all pages of the online I-765 and keep a copy for your records.
  3. Print page 1 and 2 of the new I-20 with OPT recommendation and sign by hand in black ink. Upload the signed I-20 and all other required documents.
  4. Pay the $410 fee. Keep a copy of your receipt number for your records. You can track the status of the OPT applicaiton through your myUSCIS online account.

Once the application is submitted, USCIS will communicate with you through your myUSCIS account. You will receive notifications at the mobile number and/or email address you entered in the online I-765. 

Option 2: Mail Your OPT Application to USCIS

  1. Use the I-765 guide to complete the paper I-765. 
  2. Follow the directions to assemble the application on the OPT mailing instructions included with the OPT I-20 from ISSS.
  3. Mail the entire OPT application to USCIS using delivery confirmation.

Please see OPT Employment Reporting for information on reporting requirements.