Optional Practical Training
An international student is eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after being in full time F-1 status for one academic year. Optional Practical Training can be of two types: pre-completion Optional Practical Training and post-completion Optional Practical Training.
Pre-completion Optional Practical Training: Students who wish to apply for pre-completion Optional Practical Training may do so after one full academic year of being in full-time F-1 status and 90 days before they fulfill the one academic year requirement. The students can work 20 hours per week part-time. During vacations and other official school breaks, F-1 students who have an authorization for a pre-completion Optional Practical Training can work full time.
Post-completion Optional Practical Training: Students who wish to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training may do so after one full academic year of being in full-time F-1 status, 90 days before they fulfill the one academic year requirement, and no later than 60 days after program end date.
Optional Practical Training Application Steps
Discuss eligibility with the International Student Services Coordinator.
Submit with the following documents:
- New I-20 with original signatures (DSO and student)
- Form I-765 and fee
- A copy of form I-94 (front and back)
- A copy of passport showing the picture, name and date of birth; a visa issued by a foreign consulate
- Two identical color photographs of yourself taken within 30 days of application. Using pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name on the back of the photo. The photo requirements include:
- Printed on photo quality paper.
- 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size
- Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
- Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background.
- Your head must be bear unless you are wearing a headdress as required by a religious order of which you are a member.
E-file or send the Optional Practical Training packet to the following address. Make sure that the form and the address are current at www.uscis.gov.
For U.S. Postal Service:
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For Express mail and courier deliveries:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
One of three things may happen after you file your Optional Practical Training packet.
The request is approved. If the request for Optional Practical Training is approved, the student will receive an Employment Authorization Document in the mail and start employment.
Request for more information. In case USCIS needs more information on the case, they will send a request for evidence (RFE).
The request is denied. If the request for Optional Practical Training is denied, the USCIS will send the student a letter explaining the reason for Optional Practical Training ineligibility. There is no formal appeal for a denial, but the student can file the motion to reopen or reconsider the decision if there is a valid reason.