OPT is an opportunity for F-1 student visa holders to obtain training and related experience in their field of study. Students often apply for ‘post-completion OPT’, which is a 12-month work authorization that begins after the degree has been completed. If an OPT application is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), this work authorization allows students to accept employment that is related to their field of study. Students who have earned a degree in a STEM field might also be eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of this work authorization if they have a paid, full-time position offered directly by an E-Verify employer that is related to their field of study. When applying for this work authorization, students request an updated I-20 with a specific recommendation for this benefit of F-1 status. Once they have obtained the updated I-20, the student submits a detailed application for OPT to USCIS. Students may begin working on OPT only after they have received an Approval Notice from USCIS, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by USCIS, and have reached the start date on that EAD.
Who is eligible?
- Be in valid F-1 status (you will maintain F-1 status while on OPT)
- Be in good academic standing, defined as a minimum G.P.A. 3.0 for graduate students
- Have been enrolled full-time (9 credits per term) for at least one full academic year (3 terms) prior to submitting an OPT application (YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE ON F-1 FOR THE WHOLE YEAR, ONLY WHEN APPLYING)
- Have not completed more than 364 days of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) (current ITU internship policy prevents this)
- Have not already utilized an equivalent of 12 months of OPT work authorization at current education level.