Office of International Student & Scholar Services
J. Walter Wilson, Suite 510
69 Brown Street, Box 1906 Phone 401-863-2427
Providence, RI 02912 Fax 401-863-7543
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.brown.edu/oisss
F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Definition of Optional Practical Training
Optional practical training is designed to provide you with an opportunity to gain actual employment
experience in your field of study in order to complement your academic work.
F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled for one full academic year and who are in good standing, may
apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for authorization. The employment must be
directly related to your major field of study and it must be appropriate for someone with your level of
education. The work may be full-time (during summer or after completion of course requirements) or
part-time (while school is in session), and may occur anywhere in the United States.
You may participate in OPT either
• during the annual vacation provided that you are in good standing and intend to register for the next
• while school is in session, provided that the employment does not exceed 20 hours per week,
• after completion of course requirements for the degree, excluding a thesis or the equivalent, or
• after completion of all academic program requirements.
You do not need to have a job offer before applying for pre- or post-completion OPT (12 months)
Please note: If you had a change of degree level (e.g. Ph.D. to MS) or a change of major that is not yet
reflected on your I-20, you must apply for a new I-20 prior to applying for optional practical training.
Undergraduate students must have declared a major before OPT can be approved.
Students are not eligible for practical training if they are in violation of their immigration status
Some of the most common reasons students become out-of-status are:
• Failure to pursue a full course of study.
• Failure to abide by the immigration transfer procedures when changing schools.
• Working without proper authorization
Students enrolled in English language training programs are not eligible for practical training after
completion of English language studies.
An Important Time Consideration
If you are applying for optional practical training, you are strongly advised to mail your application to
USCIS during the 90 days prior to your expected employment begin date (for summer OPT) or completion of
program date. Due to recent changes you may also apply for OPT within 60 days following the completion
of your academic program.
Importance of the Actual Date You Complete Your Program of Study
Immigration regulations refer to the date you complete all requirements for a program of study, not to the
date you participate in graduation ceremonies and receive a certificate or diploma. The USCIS ignores your
graduation date because it realizes that many students, especially graduate students in thesis or dissertation
programs, may complete requirements for a degree any day during the year. This means that the last day of
an academic term may not be the date you complete program requirements. Your lawful
F- 1 status expires 60 days after the date you complete all degree requirements and you are expected to leave
the country by then, unless you have filed an application for practical training prior to the completion of
your program or have made other arrangements to lawfully remain in the U.S.
Making a Decision Regarding Participation in Optional Practical Training
An F-1 student may be authorized for up to 12 months of OPT, and apply for another 12 months of OPT
when changing to a higher education level. For example, if you obtained permission for 12 months of
optional practical training upon completion of a bachelor's degree and plan to continue studying in a Master's
and/or a Ph.D. program, you will be eligible to receive another 12 months of optional practical training after
completion of those graduate programs.
Authorization may not be rescinded. Once authorization to engage in practical training after completion of
studies is granted, it may not be rescinded or canceled. This means that once an EAD (Employment
Authorization Document) card has been issued, situations such as unexpected delays in completing degree
requirements, inability to find an appropriate job or loss of a job may result in loss of otherwise eligible time
Actual Date Practical Training Employment May Begin
You may not begin work until all three of the following requirements are satisfied:
• You have obtained an EAD from the USCIS
• The date of your authorized employment period has begun (see dates on your EAD card)
• You have in fact completed the requirements for your program of study
(applies to practical training after completion of program only)
Change of Employer after Optional Practical Training Has Been Authorized
You may change employers after you have begun authorized employment provided the new job
• continues to be directly related to your major field of study and
• is appropriate for someone having your level of education.
Travel Outside the US
If you are planning to travel outside the U.S. after your completion of studies, you must be able to present the
EAD card to the inspecting officer at the port of entry when you return. You must reenter in F-1 status,
otherwise you lose your optional practical training privilege.
Reentry provisions of the regulations require students during optional practical training to present
• a SEVIS I-20 , endorsed for travel by the International Student Advisor within the last six months
• an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and
• a valid F-1 visa (unless eligible for automatic revalidation of an expired visa).
• a letter from the employer with either a job offer or confirmation of current employment
Students who do not meet these requirements may not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. Be sure to consult with
OISSS when contemplating travel outside the U.S. and re-entry to continue optional practical training.
Application and Authorization Procedures
You should contact OISSS well in advance of your anticipated completion date, so that the advisor can
evaluate your situation to make certain that you meet the eligibility requirements for this type of employment
To apply for optional practical training, please attend an OPT workshop first. These workshops are
offered twice each semester. Please check the OISSS website for further information.
Then bring the following to OISSS:
• For graduate students only: a memo from your department chair/graduate advisor/major professor
confirming completion of degree requirement with a specific estimated completion date
• Completed form I-765
• Current SEVIS I-20
• Unexpired passport with I-94 card
Please be prepared to indicate your desired specific employment start date (MM/DD)
Upon the fulfillment of all application requirements, the International Student Advisor will create a
new SEVIS I-20 with a recommendation for optional practical training on page 3. Please allow 3-4
business days for processing before picking up your new I-20 at the OISSS front desk.
After the International Student Advisor has recommended your participation in practical training, you must
submit an application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the USCIS Service Center
having jurisdiction over the place you are residing at that time. In most cases this will be the Vermont
To obtain the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), mail the following items below to
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden St.
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001
Checklist of Documents to be included in Optional Practical Training Application
• the completed original I-765 [#16, the eligibility category for F-1 practical training, is
(c) (3) (A) for pre-completion OPT; (c) (3) (B) for post-completion OPT and
(c) (3) (C) for a 17 month STEM OPT extension with an e-verify registered employer
• two photographs taken within 30 days white background (see attached sample), 1½” x 1½” or 2” x 2”
size (do not cut to size), name and SEVIS ID # number written lightly on the back. The SEVIS ID # can
be located at the upper right corner of your I-20
• check for $340.00 payable to ‘Department of Homeland Security’
• photocopy of the SEVIS I-20 with OPT recommendation (will be generated by the international student
• Photocopies of all previous I-20s;
• photocopy of the passport biographical page(s) showing the passport expiration date
• photocopy of your I-94 (front and back)
The listed items should be sent Certified Mail - Return Receipt Requested (within 30 days of the DSO
recommendation date) and you should keep copies of all documents that are sent to USCIS. You will also
get a receipt from USCIS for your payment. Keep this and refer to this receipt number for any future
communication with USCIS about your application. Please note that the processing time at the Vermont
Service Center will take between 3-4 months.
Authorization by the USCIS
Your permission to begin optional practical training is not finalized until you have received an Employment
Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS. The EAD card will have your photograph and signature,
and will also indicate the exact dates of your authorized employment. The current processing time is
approximately 3 - 4 months.
Please provide OISSS with a copy of your EAD for data entry purposes.
The USCIS work permission on the EAD will begin either on the date indicated by your International
Student Advisor's recommendation on your SEVIS I-20 employment page, or the date the EAD is issued,
whichever occurs later as decided by USCIS.
Please remember that you are required to obtain your EAD before beginning employment.
You can check the status of your application on line at https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/jsps/index.jsp by entering
your EAC# on your receipt from the Vermont Service Center (Notice of Action).
If you have not received your EAD within 90 days from the receipt date, indicated in your letter from USCIS
(Notice of Action), please contact OISSS.
Completion of the process:
Once your application is approved, an Employment Authorization Document, a laminated card with your
photo and specific begin and end date of your employment authorization, will be sent directly to your address
of record in I-765. [Applicants who anticipate changing addresses should note that USCIS mail will not be
A student on OPT is required by law to also notify OISSS of changes in the legal name, current
address (within 10 days of the change), employer name and address or if the student wishes to
discontinue OPT without the intent to resume employment. Students are also required to keep
OISSS abreast of periods of unemployment.
Additional Information for STEM Students only:
Students with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) may be eligible to
apply for an additional 17 month extension of their OPT prior to the expiration of their current
Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
OPT extension STEM students
The 12-month limit on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) can be extended by 17 months, for a total of 29
months, for certain STEM degree holders (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in the following
Actuarial Science; Computer Science Applications (except Data Entry/Microcomputer Applications);
Engineering; Engineering Technologies; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Mathematics and Statistics;
Military Technologies; Physical Sciences; Science Technologies; Medical Scientist (MS, PhD)
Other requirements for a 17-month extension.
Additional requirements for the 17-month extension include:
• Student must be currently participating in a period of standard OPT, working for a U.S. employer in
a job directly related to the student’s major area of study.
• Student must have successfully completed a Bachelor's, Master's, or doctoral degree in a field on the
DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List, from a SEVIS-certified college or university.
• Student must have a job offer from an employer registered with the E-Verify employment
• The student has not previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.
• The DSO must recommend the 17-month OPT extension in SEVIS, after verifying the student's
eligibility, certifying that the student's degree is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, and
ensuring that the student is aware of his or her responsibilities for maintaining status while on OPT.
• Student will have to apply for the 17-month extension on Form I-765 with fee.
• Students who timely file an application for the 17-month OPT extension will be able to continue
employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the I-765 or for 180
days, whichever comes first.
The employer must agree to report the termination or departure of the student to the DSO or through "any
other means or process identified by DHS." An employer must consider a worker to have departed when the
employer knows the student has left employment, or if the student has not reported for work for a period of
five consecutive business days without the employer's consent.
STEM extension 6-month reporting
Schools are required to report that F-1 students on an approved STEM extension are participating in the
employment segment. The reporting due dates are 6 months and 12 months after the employment start date.
Reporting may be done as early as 15 days prior to, and as late as 31 days after each reporting due date.
Failure to update the OPT extension information within the reporting period will result in the termination of
the student’s status.
REQUEST FOR OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING
• Documents required with this request
(Please allow 3 business days to issue SEVIS Form I-20.)
• Current I-20
• Passport with I-94 card
• Form I-765: [only for OPT] To get this Form, use this link
An international student advisor needs to review your request with you. Please stop by during the
open hours or call 863-2427 to schedule a meeting.
Last Name ______________________ First Name ________________ Date of Birth ________________
Anticipated Date of Completion of Program _______ Level of education [e.g. B.A., Ph.D.] ___________
Major field of study ____________________________ Dependent(s) I-20 Required ___ Yes ____No
Indicate begin and end dates of all previously authorized employment for practical training
Previous OPT date(s) _________________Previous Curricular Practical Training date(s) _____________
New OPT start date (mm/dd/year) _____________ End date _______________Full/part time _____
SEVIS requires you to report changes of your residential address to OISSS within 10 days.
SEVIS procedures also require you to provide and keep updated with OISSS the name(s) and
address(es) of your future U.S. employer(s) and actual dates of employment and periods of
unemployment while on OPT.
Please make sure to provide OISSS with this required information throughout your OPT authorization
dates by sending timely e-mail updates to email@example.com.
E-mail address after completion of program: _______________________________________________
OISSS will use also this e-mail to contact you about any information related to your F-1 student status.
Changes in immigration status should be reported a.s.a.p. Once approved, please fax a copy of your
EAD card to OISSS at 401-863-7543. Thank you.
Employer name and address:
(Please note, that you do not need a job offer at the time of application to qualify for Optional Practical
Training; however, please provide the employer information as soon as it becomes available.
Company name Contact person with phone number
Street City State Zip Code