Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training is another benefit that is available for F-1 students to engage in employment that is directly related to the program of study.

Eligibility

Students in F-1 status must have been lawfully enrolled in school on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year before becoming eligible for practical training. OPT may be requested as either "pre-completion" or "post-completion" based on the anticipated program end date for the course of study.

Employer

It is not necessary for the student to have received an offer of employment prior to requesting OPT. The request for OPT authorization must be applied for and approved by the USCIS service center prior to the student commencing the OPT employment. The student must have the employment authorization card in hand prior to being employment.

Effect on Other Employment

Students must have used less than 12 months of full-time Curricular Training to be eligible for Optional Practical Training.

Fees

There is a $380 fee for each request for Optional Practical Training.

Steps to Request OPT

  • Make an appointment to meet with Jennifer Abbott, International Student Advisor to discuss OPT and to formally request OPT from SEVIS.
  • Determine the start date for your OPT.
  • Jennifer Abbott, International Student Advisor will request OPT for you in the SEVIS system, and issue a new I-20 that reflects the OPT request.
  • Jennifer Abbott, International Student Advisor, will draft a cover letter to recommend you for OPT to be included with your application.
  • Complete the I-765 Employment Authorization application.
    The I-765 Employment Authorization form may be found on USCIS External Icon.
The following items should be submitted with the application:
  • $380.00 check or money order made payable to:
    U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Copy of most recent I-94 card (both sides) and visa inside your passport
  • Copy of identity pages of your passport and visa
  • Copy of any previous Employment Authorization Cards (EAD), if applicable
  • Two passport style photos with a white background
  • Copy of latest I-20 with OPT request.
  • Copies of any previous I-20's issued by SUNY Upstate University or any other US school you have attended (including any forms that were issued pre-SEVIS)

For more information about Photo requirements:

Submitting Application

The OPT application and supporting documents should be mailed by the International Student Advisor or student to the following address:

USCIS
Vermont Service Center
Attn: I-765
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, Vermont 05479-0001

For information on your OPT case status, please check:

NOTE: Information regarding OPT was obtained from the USCIS website for use on this webpage.

OPT 17-Month Extension

On April 3, 2008, The Department of Homeland Security announced the publication of an Interim Final Rule that makes significant changes to Post-Completion Optional Practical Training for F-1 students. This rule took effect upon publication of the rule in the U.S. Government's Federal Register of April 8, 2008.

For more information about the OPT 17 month extension, visit:

In order for an F-1 student to qualify for the 17 month extension, the code for the student's degree program must be found on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) list published at STEM Designated Degree Programs External Icon.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Q and A-regarding OPT extension:

Association of International Educators

Text of Interim Final Rule: