Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)
What is Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a unique opportunity for F-1 international students to engage in up to twelve (12) months of employment in the United States following the completion of their degree requirements. This type of employment must begin after a student has completed all degree requirements, and requires an endorsement from an NDNU DSO and adjudication/approval by USCIS.
Eligibility Requirements and General Information
- You must have been in lawful F-1 status for a minimum of one academic year (by the time you wish to begin OPT).
- Your intended employment is directly related to your major field of study and commensurate with your level of education; however, a job offer is not required when you apply.
- Your application can be submitted up to 90 days prior to the completion of your degree requirements/I-20 program end date, and must be submitted no later than the end of the 60-day grace period following your I-20 program end date. We recommend applying exactly 90 days prior to your expected OPT start date (your intended start date can be any date within your 60-day grace period).
- The training is limited to 12 months within the 14-month period following the completion of degree requirements. You can participate in OPT only once per degree level. For example, if you are completing a second master’s degree at NDNU, but you have already participated in OPT following the completion of your first master’s degree, you are not eligible for an additional year of OPT. However, if you subsequently complete a doctorate degree, you would then be eligible for another period of OPT.
- If, during your period of OPT Authorization, you request a transfer of your I-20 to another SEVP-approved school for a new academic program, your OPT will automatically end when your I-20 is transferred.
- During your period of OPT authorization, your SEVIS record is still maintained by NDNU. During the entire period of your OPT authorization, you are required to update an NDNU DSO with any changes to your name, address, and employer. Failure to make timely updates (within ten days of any change to your name, address, or employer) may result in the termination of your F-1 status.
- If you have been approved for one year of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you are not eligible for OPT (this is extremely uncommon).
- You may not work until you have completed all requirements for your program of study, received the “Employment Authorization Document (EAD)” from USCIS and the specified starting date has arrived.
- To travel outside of US for a short period of time while on OPT and employed, you need a valid EAD, a valid F-1 visa, an endorsed I-20 within the last 6 months, and a letter from your employer; however, your return to U.S. is not guaranteed. For more information regarding travel during OPT, please click the following link: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel/faq_f2.htm.
- Attend an OPT Information Forum to learn more about Optional Practical Training (the International Students Office hosts an informational forum regarding OPT at the start of each semester). If you are unable to attend this forum, please make an appointment with the International Student Advisor to discuss the application process in further detail.
- Meet with the International Student Advisor to submit your application. Make sure to bring the following documents with you to this meeting:
- OPT Application Form, completed and signed by your academic advisor;
- Your valid, unexpired passport;
- Copy of I-94;
- Copy of your F-1 visa;
- Application fee of $380. Most students pay this fee by personal or cashier’s check. All checks should be made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (please do not abbreviate), not to NDNU;
- 2 US passport-style photos.
- Photocopy of previous EAD if you have participated in OPT in the past.
- A completed form I-765, which you can obtain online at the following link: http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-765.pdf. Please note that in #16, the code for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training is (c) (3) (B).
- Once your application is complete, the NDNU International Students Office will send your application to USCIS on your behalf. Typically, USCIS adjudicates OPT applications in approximately 60-90 days. Please remember that you may not begin employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document from USCIS and the start date listed on your EAD has arrived.