African dancers
Flags from different countries
People talking at the Festival of Cultures

Optional Training Practical (OPT) Guide


OVERVIEW

F-1 students studying at colleges, universities, conservatories, or seminaries may qualify for practical training, which allows them to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in his or her field of study.

ELIGIBILITY

An F-1 student is eligible for two kinds of Optional Practical Training:

  1. Pre-Completion OPT, prior to the completion of all coursework excluding thesis or dissertation credits:
    1. You have been enrolled as a full-time student in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year.
    2. Your proposed experience (internship, work, practicum, etc.) is directly related to your major field of study.
    3. You will not be working more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  2. Post-Completion OPT, after the completion of all necessary coursework excluding thesis or dissertation credits:
    1. You have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year.
    2. Your proposed experience (internship, work, practicum, etc.) is directly related to your major field of study.
    3. You will be working up to 40 hours per week.

TO APPLY

  1. Complete the OPT Request Form (accessible by clicking here).
  2. Obtain approval from Academic Advisor that your proposed OPT program is directly related to your program of study.
  3. Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, found at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-765.pdf.
    
  4. A successful OPT application packet will contain the following documents:
  1. A copy of your passport biographical page
  2. A copy of your most recent U.S. visa
  3. A copy of the front of your I-94 card
  4. A copy of the back of your I-94 card
  5. An original check or money order, made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $380
  6. Two recent 2" x 2" passport-style photos
  7. The completed Form I-765, found here: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-765.pdf

Prepare all of these documents and scan them, in a single PDF file, to pjhiggins@pstcc.edu or bring to 106 Goins Building. The international advisor will review your materials and email you to make an appointment. Your application will not be complete until your international student advisor creates a new I-20 and provides you with CPT and OPT History pages, if applicable.

NOTE: If you have participated in 12 months of full-time CPT, you are not eligible for OPT. A student may only participate in a total of 12 months of OPT per academic level (pre- and post-completion). To begin post-completion OPT, your I-20’s program end date may be shortened to match your actual graduation date.