Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is Optional Practical Training?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status are permitted by the USCIS to work towards getting practical training to complement their field of studies once they have completed their program of studies.

“Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.” (from USCIS)

To learn more about OPT, you can visit the OPT information section on the USCIS Website

Eligibility

Students are allowed to apply in their last semester of study 90 DAYS prior to the end of their last semester in their program and up to 60 DAYS after completing their program

In order to be eligible for OPT, F-1 students must:

  • currently be in valid F-1 status
  • have applied for graduation prior to Post-Completion OPT request.
  • be physically present in the United States at the time of application
  • have completed two semesters of full-time enrollment prior to Pre or Post-Completion OPT request

This is a time line that shows all the steps within the OPT process, from application to completion.  These steps are crucial for a successful and uneventful OPT experience! PLEASE take them into account ALWAYS!

Step 1

90 DAYS BEFORE YOUR LAST DAY OF CLASS

  • Make an appointment with an ISSS advisor
  • Complete Online OPT Workshop
  • Compile ALL required documents-See OPT Checklist
  • Upload all the documents on the checklists to the ISSS E-Forms Portal
  • Meet with ISSS advisor to prepare OPT submission
  • Mail envelope to USCIS (Your OPT status  in SEVIS will show as “pending”) –Waiting period- visit https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/  Select I-765 and then either Potomac or Texas Service Center. When you get the Notice of Receipt (I-797 Form) you MUST notify your ISSS advisor via email

Step 2

ONCE YOU RECEIVE APPROVAL/YOUR EAD

  • Once you get your EAD card, you will receive an email to create an account in the SEVP portal (YOUR RESPONSIBILITY)
  • Access the FIU ISSS Portal and upload a copy of the EAD Card 
  • The ISSS Office will send you an updated I-20
  • Start/Continue looking for a job (related to your field)

Step 3

WHEN YOU GET A JOB

 

  • Update SEVP Portal (YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!) Additional information about how to report student employer information is available on Study in the States in both the SEVIS Help Hub and SEVP Portal Help section
  • Notify ISSS- Access the ISSS Portal complete the Post Completion OPT Validation e-form (you will find this form under F-1 Practical Training Reporting) and submit related documents (Job Offer Letter and Description of Job-see below for information)
  • Receive a new I-20 once request gets approved

IF YOU CHANGE JOBS:

  • Update SEVP Portal (YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!)
  • Notify ISSS- Access the ISSS Portalcomplete the Post Completion OPT Validation eform and submit related document.
  • Receive a new I-20 once request gets approved

Step 4

IF YOU ARE IN A STEM FIELD AND WANT TO EXTEND OPT

90 DAYS BEFORE YOUR OPT ENDS:

  • Visit the STEM OPT Extension section of this website
  • Make an appointment to meet with an ISSS Advisor
  • Upload all the documents on the checklists to the ISSS E-Forms Portal under STEM OPT Application Documents Upload
  • Meet with ISSS advisor to prepare STEM OPT submission
  • Receive a new I-20
  • Mail envelope to USCIS
  • When you get the Notice of Receipt (I-797 Form) you MUST notify your ISSS advisor via email.
  • Stay in touch with ISSS for the duration of your STEM OPT 

More important information

 

VERY IMPORTANT! Non-immigrant students must remember to report employer information related to Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Without this information, students could be viewed as having failed to obtain employment and potentially be considered out of status for exceeding permissible periods of unemployment while participating in OPT

MANDATORY FOR ALL THOSE WHO RECEIVE THEIR EAD CARD                                                     

Please read this Important OPT Information to learn more.

Should you still have further questions after viewing the online workshop, you are welcome to schedule an appointment to meet with an ISSS advisor. 

 

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