Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit for students on F-1 visas. It allows students to work off-campus in a job directly related to their major field of study. The purpose of OPT is for students to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to practical work experience in the U.S.
OPT is generally available for up to 12 months per degree level, as long as students progress in degree levels. (Example: A student earns a bachelor’s degree and uses 12 months of OPT. They return to school to earn a master’s and earn another 12 months of OPT).
ISSO assists students with OPT by recommending work authorization on their I-20s. The OPT application is processed by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Processing time can take up to 5 months, so it is important to apply early. USCIS allows students to apply for OPT up to 90 days before program completion. Students may apply for OPT before receiving a job offer.
More information can be found in the OPT Application Process section and by watching the introductory video below.