Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined in the Federal Regulations as temporary employment directly related to a student's field of study. During OPT, a student remains in F-1 status. The end result of the OPT request process is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
To be eligible for OPT, the student must:
Post-completion OPT applications are typically denied by USCIS if the Level of Education indicated in item #4 on the I-20 is “non-degree.”
The standard OPT period is a cumulative maximum of 12 months.
Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month limit at 50%.
An F-1 may become eligible for another 12 months of OPT if he/she advances to a higher educational level.
Some students may be eligible for an extension of their OPT based on a STEM Degree.
If you wish to apply for OPT, meet with your Academic Advisor to request an OPT recommendation letter. A MFTI international advisor will review your documents, and then send your OPT recommendation to SEVIS electronically to generate a new I-20.
Send your complete application and required documents to USCIS.
USCIS will send you a notice for the receipt of your I-765 EAD (OPT) application. Once you have received your receipt notice, you can track the status of your individual case using the case status search feature of the USCIS Web site. You may elect to receive email alerts about your case status from this Web site.
USCIS will approve or deny your OPT. If approved, they will mail your EAD to you. We have found that this is a 1-3 months average processing time. Approximate processing times for the various applications and petitions that the immigration service centers adjudicate are published on the case status section of the USCIS Web site.
There are two kinds of OPT, Pre-completion and Post-completion. To understand which type to request, you need to figure out your completion date.
The completion date is generally established as the last day of the last month of the final term in which you will register to complete academic requirements.
During pre-completion OPT, employment begins and ends before the completion of the academic program.
Earliest time to apply:
There are three types of Pre-completion OPT:
Earliest time to apply:
Deadline for Application to be Received by USCIS:
Documents Needed to Request a New I-20 with OPT Recommendation from the International Center
To apply for OPT, you must provide the following documents to your international advisor:
Once you have your OPT I-20 Course Completion Certificate and compiled all of the required documentation for an OPT I-20, you may submit your request to your international advisor.
Once you've requested an OPT recommendation through MFTI and received your new I-20, you will need to prepare and submit the following list of items to USCIS:
Refer to the Department of Homeland Security’s website for the correct mailing address. The address you wish your EAD card sent determines where the application should be mailed. Mail your application using a trackable method and keep record of your application’s delivery. Ensure your application is received by USCIS less than 30 days after your OPT I-20’s issuance date. We recommend you make a copy of the application for your own records before mailing to USCIS. NOTE: The International Center advises against using the “e-file” option because it makes you subject to additional requirements.
In the past few years there have been many changes that may affect international students who plan to leave and re-enter the U.S. The U.S. Department of State and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bureau of Department of Homeland Security have increased the level of review that international visitors face at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, at airports, and at border crossing posts with Canada and Mexico.
For additional information, MFTI suggests you consult the ICE webpage relating to OPT.APPLY NOW