Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit for students in F-1 immigration status that permits up to 12 months of off-campus employment for the purpose of gaining practical experience in the student's chosen field. There are two types of OPT: Pre-completion and Post-completion OPT.
Pre-completion OPT is intended for continuing students. Post-Completion OPT is for students who will be completing their program and are applying for work authorization post-graduation.
While the student may work for any employer in the U.S., the job duties must be directly related to the student’s area of study and commensurate with the student’s educational level.
Any student seeking off-campus employment must obtain OPT. Students must have employment authorization to receive any kind of compensation from an off-campus employer. If you have a paid experience that does not qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), then a student will need to apply for OPT. Examples of compensation may include:
Accepting any kind of compensation from an off-campus employer without OPT employment authorization is a violation to a student's non-immigrant status, and can lead to the loss of visa status.
To apply for OPT, please complete the OPT Application and review the OPT Application Instructions. It is also recommended that you attend an OPT Workshop prior to applying for OPT. Workshops will be held year round and information about dates and times will be sent to your MIIS email address.
Timeline: A student should apply at least 3 months before the anticipated start date, as it can take up to 90 days to receive OPT employment authorization. A secured job is not a requirement to apply for OPT, as OPT is not employer specific.