OPT Facts & Important Information

  • To be eligible, student must be in valid full-time student status for at least one academic year (two semesters, fall and spring only) at the time of application.
  • Post-completion OPT is granted to students who will work in the United States after graduation/completion of the degree program.
  • Standard OPT is available for up to 12 months per higher degree level completed.
  • The OPT application window is either within the 90 days before graduation, completion of coursework/degree requirements, or the Clear Prior deadline (as applicable to the student), or during the 60-day Grace Period following the I-20 expiration date/graduation day/Clear Prior deadline, whichever comes first.
    • Students who have an assistantship/fellowship may apply for OPT within the 90 days before the contract end date (which is 5/15, 8/15, or 12/31, depending on the contracted semester) or during the 60 day grace period following the I-20 expiration date/graduation day/Clear Prior deadline, whichever comes first.
  • The OPT application MUST arrive at the USCIS Service Center within 30 days from the date the OPT recommendation was made in SEVIS and before your 60-day grace period expires, whichever comes first.  An application that reaches USCIS after 30 days from when the OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS or after the expiration of the 60-day grace period (whichever comes first) will be denied.
  • Please click here for more information regarding Clear Prior.
  • OPT is obtained through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
  • If OPT is approved, student will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)/OPT card. The card must be in-hand and the start date on the card must be effective prior to starting employment, whether paid, unpaid, or volunteer.
  • The student must choose their desired OPT start date when they apply for OPT; the start-date cannot be more than 60 days after graduation/degree completion. The requested start date cannot change once the OPT application has been mailed.
  • Students do not need to have a job when they apply for Standard OPT; the application is based on graduating/completing the program.
  • Students must work in a position directly related to their field of study.
  • Post-completion OPT requires at least 20 hours of employment per week. In the case where a student’s hours vary, the total hours per month must average 20 hours per week.
  • Application fee for OPT is $410.00, payable to the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Leaving the country after graduation but before having employment is risky; we advise against it.
    • Documents required to return to the US: OPT I-20 (signed within the six months prior to the return date), a valid passport (valid at least six months after the return date), a valid F-1 visa, OPT card/EAD, a job or job offer, and 2-3 recent paystubs (if employment is paid).