International Students and Scholars Office

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is Post-Completion OPT?

It is 12-month work permission available for eligible F-1 students who plan to seek real world work experience related to their field of study.

While a DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS, the student must apply for the work authorization with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Learn more about Optional Practical Training

When to Apply

Eligible students can apply for OPT up to 90 days before and up to 60 days after your expected program completion date (the last day of the finals week).

Generally, we recommend applying for OPT as early as possible. Waiting can cause further delays and you may not get a full 12 months of OPT. Additionally, applying early increases your chances of being able to reapply if your application is rejected or denied.

Application Steps

opt flyer for Spring 2024

The requested start date must be within 60 days of your program completion date. It can be as early as the day after your completion date and up to 60 days after that.

Weigh the pros and cons of an early vs. late start date.

  • If you choose anearlier start date, you may be able to begin your employment earlier, BUT if you don't find a job, you will begin accruing unemployment days sooner.
  • If you choose a later start date, your unemployment days will begin accruing later, BUT you'll have to wait longer to begin employment.


Start Dates

Program Completion Term

Program Completion Date


Earliest OPT Start Date



Latest OPT Start Date



Application Filing Period


Fall 2023




9/18/2023 -2/15/2024

Spring 2024




2/17/2024 -7/16/2024

Summer 2024





Fall 2024




9/16/2024 -2/13/2025


*The chart above should be used for information purposes only. You are responsible for ensuring the OPT start date falls within 60 days of their program completion date. Click here to use Date Calculator. We recommend you consider picking Monday start date as many companies like to start the hiring on Monday.

Email your international student advisor or and request for an OPT I-20 document. Please inform the advisor of your graduation semester, preferred OPT start date, and whether you attended the mandatory OPT workshop.

Click HERE for the OPT I-20 Request Form.

Please complete an online application for I-765 here 

Here is the guidance for online filling of I-765.

Here is the guideline for the passport photo. Please use new photo.

After filing OPT application, you will:

  • Receive an EAD card will via the mail approximately 2-3 months later
  • Receive an email to set up SEVP Portal
  • Upload the EAD card on ISSO website   

  • Update your address and employment on SEVP portal

Employment and Unemployment


During the period of OPT authorization, you should be employed at least 20 hours per week in activities directly related to your major.

The following employment options are allowed:

  • Multiple employers: you may work in your field of study for more than one employer.
  • Short-term multiple employers (performing artists): musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short-term employers (gigs). Keep a list of all positions, dates, and duration.
  • Work for hire: contract employment in your field of study.
  • Volunteer service: you may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern in your field of study as long as this does not violate any labor laws.


Federal law limits how long F-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) can be unemployed. You cannot exceed 90 days of unemployment between the start and end date of your post-completion OPT authorization (the dates on your EAD).

  • Each day (including weekends) that you do not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment.

Reporting Requirements

Students are responsible for reporting the updates using the SEVP portal.

    • Report employment/practical training as soon as you start working
    • Report employment changes within 10 days

Learn about the portal on the SEVP Portal Help page.

Email your assigned International Student Advisor and request help with the following SEVP portal issues:

  • Reset password or change your email address
  • Unlocking a locked portal account
  • Never received the link to set up your account


  • Learn travel guidelines while applying for/ on OPT on the Travel webpage
  • If you need a new endorsement, please email your assigned international student advisor directly. During the OPT year(s), the travel signature on your I-20 is valid for 6 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

The only way to change the address USCIS uses for your OPT-related mail is to submit an official change of address to USCIS using their website tools.

The U.S. Postal Service can’t forward official government mail (like OPT cards) to a new address.

Typically 2-3 months from the date USCIS receive your application. If you still have not received your EAD card after 3 months, please reach out to your assigned international student advisor.

You are still an F-1 Student while your OPT application is pending. OPT is a benefit of F-1 status, it is not a new visa type or status.

The answer depends on your situation.

If you were issued a new I-20 with the OPT recommendation but have not yet filed your online application to USCIS, notify your assigned International Student Advisor about your change in plans. The Advisor can cancel the OPT recommendation.

If you have already filed your application to USCIS, a request can be submitted to USCIS to stop processing. You must include the receipt number USCIS assigned the case when it was filed. Your application fee will not be returned, and we cannot guarantee that your request will be honored. Also, contact your assigned International Student Advisor and notify us of your change in plans.

If you have received your EAD card and wish to cancel the authorization, a cancellation in this situation is highly unlikely. OPT applications are not meant to be canceled.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to estimate.

The authorization depends on when the application arrives and the workload at USCIS. If they process your application after your requested start date, they might push back the start date to their day of processing, up to 60 days after your program end date. However, there is no way to predict what date it will be.

To correct the EAD, submit a request through the USCIS website to correct a typographic error.

If you lose your card, you must apply and pay for a replacement.

Complete a new Form I-765 and resubmit it to USCIS with all supporting documents, including the fee. Email your assigned International Student Advisor and request an updated I-20.

We recommend you keep your EAD at home (not in your wallet) because of the expense and time in applying for a replacement.

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