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Optional Practical Training (OPT) regulations are intended to allow F-1 students to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. There are two types of practical training: optional practical training and curricular practical training. This page discusses the rules and procedures that govern optional practical training. Please note that students in English language training programs are not eligible for either type of practical training.

As an F-1 student, you are entitled to up to 12 months of optional practical training (OPT) for each degree level you complete with the exception that if you have used 12 months or more of fulltime curricular practical training you will not be eligible to receive any optional practical training. You may obtain authorization for optional practical training either before or after completion of a course of study, but all authorized practical training will be counted toward your 12 month limit.

OPT at the Completion of a Course Study

  • To be eligible for post completion optional practical training you must:
        • Have been in student status for at least one academic year;
        • Currently be maintaining a valid F-1 status; and
        • Intend to work after completion of your studies in a job directly related to you major field of study.

    It is important that you know that you must apply within 30 days of completing studies or you will not be eligible to participate in OPT. Additionally, you should also understand that you are not required to have a job offer before applying for post-completion optional practical training. In all cases your OPT must be completed no later than 14 months after your completion of studies date, unless you are eligible and apply for the STEM 17-month OPT extension (discussed below) 40 days PRIOR to the expiration of your first OPT period.

    All post completion optional practical training is full-time practical training. You may have post-completion practical training authorized for any period of time that you wish, up to the maximum amount of optional practical training remaining to you at the time of completion. If, for example, you have not previously used any optional practical training you may have the full 12 months authorized after completion of a course of study. You could choose instead, however, to have fewer months authorized in order to save some optional practical training for use after a future course of study at the same degree level. At a higher degree level you have a new allotment of 12 months OPT available.

    Application and Authorization Procedures

    To apply for a period of optional practical training, which begins after completion of a course of study please bring the following items to UCIE no earlier than 100 days before and no later than 30 days after your completion of studies date:

        • The "Academic Departmental Certification" form must be completed by your academic or faculty adviser.
        • A photocopy of your SEVIS I-20 Form with OPT recommended with your signature in item #11
        • You must submit TWO identical photos with full front view of your face taken within the past 30 days. The photos must comply with the following specifications:
            BACKGROUND: Plain Light (White or Off-White)
            PAPER: Thin, Glossy paper and not retouched
            SIZE: 2 inch x 2 inch, with the distance from the top of the head to just below the chin between one inch and not more than 1-3/8"
        • You should print your name lightly in pencil on the back of the two photographs (include the number on your previous EAD if you have one from an earlier period of optional practical training).
        • A personal check or money order for $380 payable to Department of Homeland Security (A cashier's check from your own bank is preferable because, if necessary, you will be able to determine if it has been cashed and DHS prefers this method of payment.)
        • A photocopy of the front and back of your I-94 card (white card, usually stapled in your passport)
        • A photocopy of your passport information page (and the page including your photograph, if different)
        • A photocopy of the visa page in your passport (except Canadian citizens, who have no visa)
        • If you have had a previous period of optional practical training, then you must also include a photocopy of your Employment Authorization Document (photo ID card) authorizing your previous practical training.

    After reviewing these documents to confirm your eligibility, a UCIE advisor will print a new I-20 and endorse it recommending the requested period of full-time optional practical training. Your must submit your application by Certified mail or Courier them to the regional office of the DHS in Lincoln, Nebraska for processing if the address used in the I-765 is in Dayton. DHS Office will first mail a receipt to you, to the address you wrote on your Form I-765, and will later mail your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the same address.

    Please note that DHS processing usually takes 60 to 90 days. You may not begin employment before you receive your EAD from INS; working before receipt of your EAD constitutes illegal employment that renders you illegally present in the U.S.

    Please observe also, that the application deadline 30 days after the completion of studies date is a critical deadline. After date of completion of the degree you are in an 60-day F-1 "grace period" and therefore ineligible to submit an optional practical training application to UCIE or the DHS Service (to avoid possible deadline problems, your post completion optional practical training application should actually be received by the DHS before your degree completion date, so apply well in advance). Your completion of studies date is usually the March, June, August or November graduation date at the end of your last term of enrollment. You may if you choose, however, use an earlier dissertation defense date or thesis submission date as your completion of studies date.

OPT Before Completion of a Course Study

  • Note: Most students do not choose this option because the time you spend in Pre-Completion OPT will be subtracted from the amount of time you are eligible to spend in Post-Completion OPT. For example, if you are eligible for 12 months of OPT and spend 6 months in Pre-Completion OPT, you will only be eligible for 6 months of Post-Completion OPT.

    To be eligible for pre completion optional practical training you must:

        • Have been in student status for at least one academic year;
        • Currently be maintaining a full-time program of study and valid F-1 status; and
        • Intend to work in a job directly related to you major field of study.

    If you meet these eligibility requirements, you may have pre-completion OPT authorized in any of the following circumstances:

        1. During the school year: In this case optional practical training will be authorized for only 20 hours per week and the period authorized will be deducted from your 12 month total at a rate of one half month for each month authorized (all part-time optional practical training authorization will be counted in this way).

        2. During vacation periods: In this case optional practical training authorization may be either part-time or full-time.

        3. After completion of all course requirements for a degree: In this case, too, optional practical training authorization may be either part-time or full-time. This situation arises most often after completion of all course requirements for a Ph.D., when a student is registered for dissertation (dissertation registration is considered to be full-time study), but may arise in other cases as well.

    You do not have to have a job offer to have pre completion optional practical training authorized. In most cases, however, you will not want to apply without a job offer or firm job prospect because periods of optional practical training cannot be rescinded once the period requested has begun. If you have requested a period of optional practical training but do not work, that period is still deducted from your 12 month total.

    Application and Authorization Procedures

    To apply for a period of optional practical training before completion of a course of study please bring prepare the following documents for your application

        • The "Academic Departmental Certification" form must be completed by your academic or faculty adviser.
        • A copy of your original Form I-20 (an UCIE advisor will endorse the I-20 for practical training and make a copy for your application to the DHS; you will not have to give up your original I-20) plus all CPT I20 forms
        • You must submit TWO identical photos with full front view of your face taken within the past 30 days. The photos must comply with the following specifications:
            BACKGROUND: Plain Light (White or Off-White)
            PAPER: Thin, Glossy paper and not retouched
            SIZE: 2 inch x 2 inch, with the distance from the top of the head to just below the chin between one inch and not more than 1-3/8"
        • If you wish your photos to be made on campus, please call ahead and make an appointment at the Center for Teaching & Learning (phone: 775-3162), 023 Dunbar Library. (There is an $11 photo fee charged.)
        • You should print your name lightly in pencil on the back of the two photographs (include your date of birth also)
        • A personal check or money order for $380 payable to Department of homeland Security (a certified check from your bank is preferable because, if necessary, you will be able to determine if it has been cashed.)
        • A photocopy of the front and back of your I-94 card (white card, usually stapled in your passport)
        • A photocopy of your passport information page (and the page including your photograph, if different)
        • A photocopy of the visa page in your passport (except Canadian citizens, who have no visa)
        • If you have had a previous period of optional practical training, a photocopy of your Employment Authorization Document (photo ID card) authorizing your previous practical training.

    After reviewing these documents to confirm your eligibility, a UCIE advisor will endorse page three of your Form 1-20 recommending the requested period of part-time or full-time optional practical training. It usually takes 5 business days for UCIE to process your application process following UCIE approval you must mail the application to the regional office of the DHS in Lincoln, Nebraska for processing. DHS will first mail a receipt to you, to the address you wrote on your Form I-765, and will later mail your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the same address. Please note that INS processing usually takes 90 days from the date they receive your application so we suggest you apply for OPT a minimum of 90 days before start date of employment. You may not begin employment before you receive your EAD from INS; working before receipt of your EAD constitutes illegal employment that renders you illegally present in the U.S.

FAQ on Cap Gap and OPT Extension

  • For more information regarding the 17 Month OPT Extension please open this link. PDF

17 Month OPT Extension for STEM Degree Holders

  • What is the 17 Month OPT Extension?

    During the initial period of 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), certain government specified STEM degree-holders (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in the following fields may be eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT, for a total of 29 months.

        • Actuarial Science
        • Computer Science Applications
        • Engineering
        • Engineering Technologies
        • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
        • Mathematics and Statistics
        • Physical Sciences
        • Science Technologies
        • Medical Scientist (MS or PhD)

    What are the requirements to be eligible for the 17 Month OPT Extension?


        • No previous 17-month STEM OPT extension received;
        • Current period of standard OPT must be based on STEM degree;
        • Student's employer is registered in the E-Verify program

    What are the application requirements to be eligible for the 17 Month OPT Extension?


    Department of Homeland Security recommends eligible applicants to apply 3 months before first 12 month OPT period expires;

    F-1 Students should make sure that WSU "Wings" contains his/her most up-to-date US mail address;

    Student should have already informed UCIE of current employer - name and address and beginning date of employment within 10 days of any employment change using web page form: Form OPT and Employment Reporting Requirements. Department of Homeland Security regulations require that you report your employment beginning date, any changes in employment within 10 days of the change. Failure to do so jeopardizes your F-1 Status. Additionally, you are required to submit a report every 6 months during the OPT period. The links below will direct you to OPT and Employment Reporting form.

    Student should not have been unemployed more than an aggregate of 90 days from OPT (EAD Card) beginning date;

    Student must supply copy of degree and WSU transcripts (noting STEM major);

    Two passport size photos (no more than 30 days old) and the DHS processing fee (currently $380; we recommend cashier's check payable to "Dept. of Homeland Security");

    Completed Form I-765 which student has prepared to send to DHS (See "Note" below)

    NOTE: The OPT application form (Form I-765) can be found at the CIS web site at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis (choose the tab that says "forms"). In completing I-765 please put the following letters/codes in Item # 16: (c) (3) (C) (for 17-month extensions only). Also, although it is not a requirement it may be prudent to send also a letter from your employer (on company letterhead/stationery) verifying: (1) That you are currently employed; (2) What was your employment beginning date; and (3) What your position title is. Lastly, we suggest that you read the I-765 instructions carefully (See web site below) to determine the appropriate DHS Service Center to which you must mail your application. This will depend on your current address and whether or not you want to use the UCIE address for the return of your extended OPT card. Once you have received your new OPT I-20 recommending the 17-month extension, you should mail it along with the other required documents to the DHS Service Center in your area (see I-765 instruction).

    Copy of previous Opt-EAD card (Form I-766) and EAD card "mailer" Form I-797D

    New I-20 from Wright State University recommending the OPT extension (UCIE will supply this to you once we receive the above highlighted items).

    If you are sending in your application you must mail copies of above required documents (bolded ) to UCIE Office at Wright State University along with a short letter requesting the UCIE prepare the OPT 17-month extension Form I-20.

    For more information regarding the 17 Month OPT Extension please open this link. PDF

Non Cancellation of OPT

  • Once your authorized practical training has begun you may not rescind or cancel it. An unexpected delay in completing degree requirements, inability to find an appropriate job or loss of a job does not allow you to take back or adjust a practical training authorization even if this means you will lose time when you would otherwise have been eligible to work under optional practical training.

Social Security, Taxes, Employment Eligibility Verification, Complying with Employment Regulations


  • Social Security Numbers

    If you plan to work in the U.S. you will need a valid Social Security number (your WSU ID is not a valid Social Security Number). To apply, please obtain instructions and directions to the Social Security Office from UCIE. The Social Security Administration will process your application and a number will be sent to you in about one month.

    Taxes

    In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. in less than six calendar years are exempt from social security (FICA) and Medicare taxes. You should be sure to bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. If you need more information about the F-1 social security and Medicare tax exemption, please contact UCIE.

    Students in F-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply: federal, state and local (but check with UCIE to see if your country is one of the few that has a tax treaty with the U.S. allowing students to exclude a limited amount of earned income from federal taxation). Also, you may be able to treat a period of post completion practical training as an extended business trip and substantially reduce your federal taxes by deducting "travel expenses" (amounts for housing, transportation and a per diem food allowance) from you income. (You should consult an accountant or tax attorney to see if you can deduct travel expenses in your circumstances.)

    Employment Eligibility Verification

    Within the first three days of beginning work you and your employer must complete a form entitled Employment Eligibility Verification (INS Form I-9). This form will be kept on file by your employer and must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission.

    Failure to Comply with Employment Regulations

    It is your responsibility to comply with all DHS regulations which apply to F-1 students, including employment regulations. Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of your student status. If you fail to comply with your responsibilities, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and, in some situations, may be subject to deportation. Prior to accepting any employment in the U.S., we strongly urge you to consult with the UCIE office.

Travel Abroad and Reentry to the United States While on Post-Completion Practical Training


  • If you are on post completion practical training, travel abroad with the intention of reentering the U.S. in F-1 status should present no problem if you have all of the following:

        • a valid passport;
        • a valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport;
        • your original Form I-20 endorsed for reentry by an UCIE advisor within the past year;
        • your original practical training Employment Authorization Document issued by INS; and
    proof that you have a job in the U.S. appropriate for practical training (such as a letter from your employer describing your job).

    If you do not have all of these documents you should not travel abroad without first consulting with an UCIE advisor. (An expired F-1 visa poses a particular problem; it may be difficult or impossible to renew your F-1 visa while you are on practical training.)

    PDFCLICK HERE For Information About OPT Students Travel Warning

OPT Application Forms


  • OPT Application Form: On-line Application PDF

    OPT Employment Reporting Form PDF

    Department Certificate form: Graduate PDF or Undergraduate PDF

    Employment Authorization application Forms: I-765 PDF and G-1145 PDF

    Please note that optional practical training requires authorization from the DHS, which typically requires three months to process. The US Post Office will not forward DHS mail containing your EAD card (employment approval). Thus, if there is a chance you may move from your present Dayton area address within the next 120 days, it is recommended to use the UCIE address, Please record it in the following fashion in Item # 3 on the I-765 application form: UCIE Office, Wright State University, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435. You may also use a similar address of trusted friend or relative whose name is on the mailbox.

    Please note that UCIE requires a minimum of 5 business days to process your application and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office requires an additional 90 days period to issue your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which permits you to start the OPT employment.

Contact information

You can contact us by using the information below.

  • Wright State University
    University Center for International Education
    E190 Student Union
    3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy.
    Dayton, OH 45435-0001
  • Phone: 937-775-5745
  • Fax: 937-775-5776
  • Hours: 8:30 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.

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