Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional practical training may be used prior to or after completion of studies. It must be directly related to your major area of study.
If you have been enrolled in a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) sanctioned school for at least 9 months and are currently an F-1 student in an academic program, (not ESL), you may apply for training to take place during any of the following times:
- During your annual vacation and when school is not in session if you are currently enrolled, are eligible and intend to register for the next term.
- While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed twenty hours a week.
- After completion of the course of study.
Note: you are not eligible if you have already been granted 12 months of full-time curricular or optional practical training. See an advisor for details.
How long is Optional Practical Training?
It is for a total of 12 months. If it is done after the course of study, it must be completed within a 14-month period following the completion of study. Part-time optional practical training before completion of studies is calculated at one half the full-time rate. For example, part-time optional practical training for 6 months will count as 3 months of the total 12-month period for optional practical training.
When do I apply?
You may request Optional Practical Training (OPT) before completion of studies at any time after you have met the eligibility requirements listed above. Please note that if you wish to do OPT after you graduate, you must apply before finals week of your last term. CIS is very strict about this; there are no exceptions.
How do I apply?
- Apply for graduation at MHCC to verify which term you will be completing your studies.
- Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (PDF Format), using the code “(c) (3) (i)” at item 16.
- Submit two passport style photos.
- Submit a $175 check payable to Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).
- Submit a photocopy of your I-20.
- Submit a photocopy of your I-94, both sides
- Submit a photocopy of identification and visa page from your passport.
- Submit any previously issued EAD's, if applicable.
Submit all of the above to the International Admissions Office. The International Admissions Evaluator will create a new I-20 for you recommending OPT in your field of study. All application materials must be mailed to CIS.
When can I begin working?
You may begin practical training once you receive the EAD from the CIS Service Center. You are only permitted to work during the time period written on the EAD.