Optional Practical Training - OPT
F-1 International Students who are completing their program at the end of the Fall semester 2019 Or Winter session 2020 may apply to ISS for OPT on or after Monday September 16, 2019. If you wish to apply for OPT you must read the below information and download the OPT packet, then complete the process.
OPT Workshop Schedule for Fall 2019
ISS will hold OPT Workshops on the application process, rules, and responsibilities and to answer any questions about the application process.
- Tuesday September 17 3:00pm – Student Union Building - MPR
- Thursday September 26 3:00pm – Student Union Building – MPR
Students may schedule an appointment at any time to discuss OPT, or come to Walk In Advising Hours.
Students may schedule an appointment with and advisor on the Florham Campus for questions on the OPT process.
Types of OPT
Standard Post-Completion OPT
Standard Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, or “OPT”, is off-campus work authorization for F-1 international students in their field of study. This benefit can be utilized after completion of all degree requirements. If granted by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) the authorization full time employment for a maximum of 12 months.
24 Month OPT STEM Extension
F-1 international students who have earned a STEM degree from a qualifying U.S. institution may qualify for a 24 Month OPT STEM extension.
Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training is for F-1 international students who have not yet met the requirements to complete their degree, but would like authorization to work in their field of study. Authorization is granted on a part-time basis (20 hours per week) while school is in session. The student may work full time during official University breaks only.
If you are interested in this, please contact the office for an appointment.
Post Completion OPT Eligibility
- You are a degree candidate who has been in lawful status as a full time student for at least one academic year and are in F-1 status at the time of OPT filing.
- You have not completed a previous OPT in the same academic level.
- You have not exceeded 364 days of Full Time CPT at your current program academic level.
- You are within 90 days of your program completion – (Program completion is the last day of your final program requirement, this may be the last day of your final course)
Determining Your Post Completion OPT Start Date
Your start date must be after program completion.
The program completion is the last day of your final program requirement, which can be the last day of the semester; the end of a summer or winter session; or after completion of a modular or Saturday course. Please check your course registration to determine the end date of your final course.
Immigration allows you to begin working up to 60 days after the completion of your program. You must choose a start date between the day after program completion and 60 days later. (Program completion is mostly likely before the end date of your I-20)
Standard Post-completion OPT is award for 12 months. Regardless of your OPT start date OPT must be completed 12 months after program completion or within 14 months, whichever comes first. The dates will be indicated on your EAD (OPT) card.
When to Apply
USCIS is able to receive Standard Post-completion OPT applications up to 90 days prior to the completion of a student's academic program.
The Office of International Student Services recommends that you submit the OPT packet to to our office as early as 90 days before your program completion.
OPT Beginning and Rules
It may take USCIS 90 days or longer to approve your OPT. You may not begin work until the EAD (OPT) card has arrived and the start date has begun.
You must know and understand the Rules of maintain F-1 status while on OPT. The instructions on filing your OPT with USCIS and Maintaining your status during OPT can be found in the Filing For OPT Instruction Sheet.
OPT Application Process
- Download the OPT PACKET
- Read instructions on page 1
- Complete the OPT Request form (Page 2) - Student completes top section and Academic Advisor completes bottom section
- Submit completed OPT Request form to ISS during normal business hours in person or email these documents to firstname.lastname@example.org
- ISS will review your documents and create an OPT I-20 within 5-7 business days
ISS will contact you to collect your new I-20
You may select an in-person pickup or to have your documents shipped to yourself with Eship Global. You may not have a friend pick up your documents.
- Review and understand the Filing for OPT Instruction Sheet to prepare your documents for USCIS
- Review the TIPS to Complete Form I-765
- Prepare all documents in a packet to mail to USCIS – ISS recommends you make a copy of all your document for your personal records
*USCIS must receive your application packet within 30 days of the OPT I-20 creation date
- Follow the mailing instructions on the OPT Next Steps Packet
Additional Information on OPT
What if after I apply for OPT I find out I have not completed my academic program?
If you apply for OPT and do not complete your academic program you must meet with an ISS advisor regarding cancellation of your OPT application. This must be done as soon as possible after you receive notification that you have not completed your program.
What if I find a job before my card arrives?
You may not begin working until you receive your card and are within the authorized dates of employment.
What counts as employment?
- Paid employment at least 20 hours per week, including work for hire and employment through an agency. This employment may be with one or more employers.
- Unpaid employment at least 20 hours per week
- Self employment if a student chooses to start a business. Student must be able to prove to Immigration that he/she has the proper business licenses.
If you chose to travel outside the U.S. while on OPT, make sure you have the following documents:
- EAD Card
- All SEVIS I-20s including the current I-20 with travel signature on page 2 that is less than 6 months old! It is very important that your OPT I-20 has been signed by a DSO less than 6 months before the date you plan on re-entering the U.S.
- Valid F-1 Visa for re-entry to the U.S.
- Letter from your employer stating that you are re-entering the U.S. to resume employment. It is also helpful to bring with you an pay stubs as additional proof that you have secured a job.
What do I do when my Post-Completion OPT ends?
USCIS states that you have 60 days from the end date of the authorized Post-Completion OPT period to:
- Be in the process of changing to another immigration status.
- Have an I-20 for the next upcoming semester to begin a new academic program.
- Leave the United States.