Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of work authorization for F-1 students, defined in the federal regulations as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study." It is intended to provide students with practical experience in their field of study during or, more commonly, upon completion of a degree program.

An F-1 student may be authorized to receive up to a total of 12 months of OPT either before (pre-) and/or after (post-) completion of studies. However, students who have accumulated 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training (CPT) are ineligible to apply for OPT.

An F-1 student is eligible for 12 months of OPT for each degree level. However, a student cannot apply for OPT at a degree level lower than one for which he/she has already been approved for OPT in the past.

TYPES OF OPT

  • Special Circumstances: Pre-Completion OPT and Cap Gap for F-1 Students

    Pre-Completion OPT is employment authorized before the student's program end date. Students with approved pre-completion OPT may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students who are eligible to register for the next term, and who plan to do so, may have approval to work full time when school is not in session.

    Cap Gap is the period of time between the end of the 60-day grace period following the expiration of Optional Practical Training (OPT) and the start of the H-1B status. Students may apply for an extension under special circumstances.