International Center

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Post-Optional Practical Training (OPT) is for undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or who have been pursuing their degrees and are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for, at most, 12 months or up to an additional 24 months with an extension on a student visa for practical training in their field of study.

All students must complete the tutorial and certificate through Blackboard before the International Center will accept your OPT application.

For more information regarding OPT and to begin the application process, please review the International Center OPT Tutorial in Blackboard.

OPT I-20 Application Process

  1. Review the International Center OPT Tutorial on Blackboard. To access and self-enroll in the course, please use the instructions found here.
  2. Complete the OPT Tutorial quiz and print out your certificate of completion.
  3. Complete the OPT form with your academic adviser authorization and submit to the International Center with the certificate of completion from the OPT Tutorial.
  4. Pay the $100 OPT administrative fee, and submit a copy of payment receipt to the International Center with your application. The OPT fee can be paid online.

OPT Application Form

OPT Workshops—Fall 2021 Schedule

In an effort to curb the spread of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all Optional Practical Training workshops—for now—will take place online via Blackboard Connect. The information for each workshop is below. All workshops will be done virtually, but a recording will be provided later on this page.

Fall 2021 OPT workshop

Fall 2021 Workshop Schedule:

Friday, September 24th, 2021; 12:45 pm

October 14th, 2021; OPT recording

November 16th, 2021; 12:45pm: https://bit.ly/3oVGUhu

December 2nd, 2021; 12:45pm: https://bit.ly/3FD9aeX

When to Apply for OPT

Final IIT Enrolled Semester/Degree Conferral Date

First Day to Submit I-20 Request to the International Center Earliest date to apply to USCIS for EAD Last date to apply to USCIS for EAD (this is the day your application must reach the USCIS Lockbox)

Fall 2021 Semester 

December 21, 2021

September 13th, 2021

September 22nd, 2021 February 17th, 2022

UPDATE: Online Filing of Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT

On 4/12/2021, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) can now file their form I-765 online if filling under the pre-completion, post-completion and the STEM extension categories. For the full news release, please visit the USCIS website.

Note that you MUST proceed with the online application process very carefully. The system allows you to submit your application and you must do so with all required documents and evidence, lack thereof can lead to requests for evidence and additional difficulties. This means you must be very careful to ensure that everything is included before submitting the online application.

To file these forms online, individuals must first create a USCIS online account at https://myaccount.uscis.gov/.

Online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case anytime from anywhere, and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail.

Please note that USCIS continues to accept OPT and STEM OPT applications by mail, as well.

The decision to file online or by mail is a choice each applicant will make for themself, and each applicant is fully responsible for their own OPT & STEM OPT application.

Update Regarding Form G-1450

Form G-1450 allows for students to make a payment with their applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using a credit card.

While we are not recommending one form of payment over another, there have been reported issues lately with students who have experienced rejections of their Optional Practical Training (OPT) application when using Form G-1450. For instance, if the credit card charge is denied or does not go through with the bank that issued the card, USCIS may reject the OPT application.

We encourage all students to pay attention to the details if and when you choose to use this form, or use an alternative way to make the payment to USCIS regarding your OPT and STEM OPT filing.

Other alternatives include submitting a personal check or a cashier’s check from your bank or by purchasing a money order and including one of these alternatives with your applications to USCIS.

OPT Processing Delays

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) occasionally experiences delays when processing Optional Practical Training (OPT) applications. While USCIS is expected to act on each case within 90 days, it can sometimes take longer.

What causes the USCIS OPT processing delays?
The cause of OPT processing delays is unclear. Processing times have always fluctuated due to the varying volume of applications (i.e., more applications around the spring semester graduation period and fewer applications in the summer) and changes in the number of USCIS officers assigned to process work authorization applications.

How can I track the case status of my OPT application?
You can track the current case status of your OPT application by entering your USCIS receipt number on its tracking website.

After applying for OPT, how long should I wait before trying to contact USCIS?
Please note that excessive contact with USCIS can actually slow down your OPT application processing time. It’s best to keep your contact with USCIS as minimal as possible. Visit the International Center website for guidance on when and how you can monitor your OPT application.

What does it mean if my case has been transferred?
The USCIS lockbox may transfer your case to another service center. This does not mean that anything is wrong with your case. These transfers occur in order to balance the volume of applications and reduce the effect of delays. When the USCIS lockbox sends your case to another service center, you will receive a notice with your receipt number.

What do I tell my employer? How can I explain the processing delay to them?
If the processing delay is going to affect your employment start date, keep your employer updated on what you have done to expedite the process. You should also explain to your employer that you can only start working after the start date on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card and after you receive the EAD card in the mail.

OPT Reporting Requirements

While on your Optional Practical Training (OPT) period, you are required to make reports to the International Center as part of maintaining your F-1 status. It is important that you follow these reporting requirements to avoid falling out of status.

Please see the link below to understand how these requirements affect you.

OPT Reporting Requirements

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