OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING FOR STUDENTS IN F-1 STATUS
Definition of Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training is designed to provide you with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience in your
current major field of study for a maximum of one year, per higher degree level (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate), during
your F-1 status. The purpose is to "round off" or complement your academic work.
12-Month OPT Eligibility Requirements
The work must be directly related to your current major field of study and it must be appropriate for someone having your
level of education. The work may occur anywhere in the United States. In order for you to be eligible to apply for
Optional Practical Training, you (1) must have been in lawful F-1 student status for at least one full academic year and (2)
must submit your application in a timely fashion (see next section). Students enrolled in English language training
programs are not eligible for practical training.
Application Deadline for 12-Month OPT Following Completion of Your Program
Please call International Student Services to make an appointment for OPT recommendation after you prepare all the
documents required for OPT. You must properly file your OPT up to 90 days prior to your program end date and
no later than 60 days after your program end date, which means USCIS must receive your OPT application no
later than the end date of your 60-day grace period following your degree completion date. In addition, you must
mail and USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation
for OPT into your SEVIS record. If your OPT application is received more than 30 days after the DSO enters the
OPT recommendation into your SEVIS record, the application may be denied. To allow adequate processing time,
please contact International Student Services for an appointment no later then 2 weeks before the required filing date.
Upon recommendation from this office, this application will be submitted to the USCIS office having jurisdiction
over the place you are living at that time. You do not need a job offer first to apply for the 12-month OPT following
degree completion. However, if you do have a job offer at the time of filing, please provide your employer information to
the DSO who recommends your OPT.
An undergraduate student with a cumulative GPA of less than 2.0 or a graduate student with a cumulative GPA
of less than 3.0 is not allowed to apply for OPT prior to your degree completion date. You need to apply after
your grades are posted. However, your application must reach USCIS before the expiration date of your 60-day
grace period following your degree completion date, normally the last day of your classes in the last semester.
Application Deadline for 17-Month OPT Extension
You may file for the 17-month STEM extension up to 120 days prior to the end of your post-completion OPT. USCIS
must receive your OPT extension application no later than the expiration date of your post-completion OPT.
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. Your lawful F-1 status expires 60 days after the
date you complete degree requirements and you are expected to leave the country by that date unless you file a timely
application for practical training or make other plans to lawfully remain in the U.S. Failure to complete your degree by
the date specified in your OPT application will result in the loss of your OPT. If you will not be completing your program
as originally anticipated, you must apply for an extension of your I-20 form and continue to maintain your registration as
Using 12-Month OPT Prior to Completing Your Program
You may submit an application to the International Student Services as early as 90 days before being enrolled for one full
academic year in good standing, provided that the period of employment will not start prior to the completion of the one
full academic year. You must be currently enrolled and eligible for registration, and intend to register for the next
term/session. You must first have a job offer when applying to use OPT for work prior to completing your degree. The
work could be full time during annual vacations. The work is limited to 20 hours per week if you wish to use your OPT
while you are still taking a regular full course load or authorized part time semester. Full time OPT used prior to finishing
your degree program will be deducted from your 12 month limit per degree level. Part time OPT used prior to finishing
your degree program will be deducted at one-half the time used from your 12 months limit per degree level. Before
selecting this option, please meet with your Academic Advisor and the Co-Op/Internship Director to see if Curricular
Practical Training is an alternative.
Authorization May Not Be Rescinded
Once authorization to engage in Optional Practical Training is granted, it may not easily be rescinded or cancelled. OPT
can not be cancelled due to unexpected delays in completing degree requirements, inability to find an appropriate job or
loss of a job. Once permission to work has been given, it can not be canceled regardless of whether you use it or not. If
you have never worked using your OPT and wish to cancel the authorized time prior to the start date of the card, please
meet with an International Student Advisor to discuss this option.
Actual Date Practical Training Employment May Begin
You may not begin work on your 12-month OPT until the following requirements are satisfied: (1) you have obtained an
EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) from the USCIS, and (2) the date is reached when the EAD authorizes
employment to begin. You may not begin working until you have received your EAD card and it is valid! If you are
currently working on CPT and wish to continue working with no interruptions, you should (1) request a start date
immediately following your program completion and (2) apply 90 days prior to your program completion to
maximize your chances of receiving the OPT card on time.
Request for Further Evidence
If you receive a Request for Further Evidence from the US Immigration Service while your OPT is pending, you must
bring or fax the notice to the International Student Services and consult with an International Student Advisor prior to
responding to the request. Failure to do so may lead to the denial of your OPT application.
Please make sure your passport is valid and has a validity period of at least 6 months prior to filing for OPT. If your
passport is valid for less than 6 months, please apply at your consulate for a renewal and include proof of having applied
for the renewal in your OPT application.
Change of Name and Address, and Employer Information
The immigration laws require all F-1 students to notify their school within 10 days of a change of name and address. This
rule applies to all F-1 students, including those in their OPT period following degree completion. Notify the Registrar’s
Office and International Student Services of any change in your name, local address or home country address. If you
move while your OPT application is pending, you must also directly notify the USCIS by calling the phone number listed
on your receipt notice. Please be advised that federal mail, such as your OPT card and receipt notice, cannot be
forwarded in the US mail. If you file a forwarding order with the US post office and do not notify the USCIS and
school of your address change, your receipt notice and OPT card will be returned back to the USCIS. You may have to
file another application to replace your OPT card and pay the fee again. If you are uncertain of how long you will remain
at your current address, use the following on your OPT application form I-765:
C/O International Student Services, 126 Park Avenue, G-133, Bridgeport, CT 06604.
You must also keep International Student Services informed of the name and address of your employer, and
interruption of such employment during the entire OPT period. If any reported information is changed, you
must notify this office of such change within 10 days.
Special Reporting obligations for students with an approved 17-month OPT Extension
In addition to the above-mentioned reporting requirements on change of name, address and employer information,
students with an approved 17-month OPT extension have additional reporting obligations. The student must make a
validation report to the DSO every six months starting from the date the extension begins and ending when the student’s
F–1 status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, or the student transfers to another school or
program, or the 17-month OPT extension ends, whichever comes first. The validation is a confirmation that the student’s
information in SEVIS for the above-mentioned information is current and accurate. This report is due to the student’s
DSO within 10 business days of each reporting date. If the student fails to report, your SEVIS record will
automatically be set to Terminated status with a reason of “Failure to Report while on OPT”. Compliance with
these reporting requirements is mandatory in order to maintain F–1 status.
Periods of Unemployment Allowed During Post-Completion OPT
During post-completion OPT, F–1 status is dependent upon employment. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more
than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial 12-month post-completion
OPT authorization. Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of
unemployment during the total OPT period comprising any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial post-
completion OPT authorization and the subsequent 17-month extension period.
Status and Employment Authorization with a Pending H-1B Petition
Duration of status and employment authorization will be extended to a student on OPT who is a beneficiary of a timely-
filed H-1B petition requesting an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year. If USCIS denies a
pending H–1B petition, the student will have the standard 60-day period (from notification of the denial or rejection of the
petition) before he/she has to leave the United States. For students with active post-completion OPT, the cap gap
extension for both employment and F-1 status starts the date the student’s original OPT expires and ends September 30
unless the H-1B petition for the student is rejected, denied, or withdrawn. In those cases, the employment authorization
ends and the grace period begins. For students whose post-completion OPT expired prior to the filing date of the H-1B
petition, the cap gap extension starts at the end of their grace period and ends September 30 unless the H-1B petition for
the student is rejected, denied or withdrawn. However, these students will not have work authorization.
Travel Outside the U.S.
Students in OPT are still considered to be in F-1 student status and must present(l) Form I-20, endorsed for travel by an
International Student Advisor within the last six months, (2) the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card), (3) a
valid F-1 visa and passport (if required), and (4) proof of your job if you are traveling after your OPT has been authorized
(letter of permission for travel from your employer is highly recommended). If your OPT has been approved and you
depart before you get a job, your OPT ends and you cannot reenter the US. While it is possible, we do not recommend
unnecessary travel outside of the U.S. during the time when an OPT application is pending as you may miss important
communication from the USCIS regarding the processing of your case. If you travel while employed either during a
period of leave authorized by your employer or as part of your employment, the time spent outside the U.S. will not count
as unemployment. Any other travel will be counted towards the 90/120 day unemployment limit. Traveling outside the
U.S. for 5 months or more will lead to violation of your F-1 status and cancellation of your OPT. Please provide us a
copy of your I-94 card after returning from a trip abroad.
Termination of Practical Training
Your OPT will automatically be terminated if you transfer to another school or begin study at another educational level.
Your OPT will automatically be terminated if you change your non-immigrant status to another category (such as H-1B).
Please notify the International Student Services if you end your OPT prior to your authorized end date. Failure to
complete your degree by the date specified in your OPT application is grounds for termination of your OPT.
Eligibility on 17-Month OPT Extension
A qualified student may apply for an extension of OPT while in a valid period of post-completion OPT. The extension
will be for an additional 17 months, for a maximum of 29 months of OPT, if all of the following requirements are met:
(1) The degree that was the basis for the student’s current period of OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in
one of the degree programs on the current STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Designated Degree
Program List in the following fields (For a complete STEM Designated Degree Program list, please visit
• Actuarial Science. NCES CIP Code 52.1304
• Computer Science: NCES CIP Codes 11.xxxx (except Data Entry/Microcomputer Applications, NCES CIP
• Codes 11.06xx)
• Engineering: NCES CIP Codes 14.xxxx
• Engineering Technologies: NCES CIP Codes 15.xxxx
• Biological and Biomedical Sciences: NCES CIP Codes 26.xxxx
• Mathematics and Statistics: NCES CIP Codes 27.xxxx
• Military Technologies: NCES CIP Codes 29.xxxx
• Physical Sciences: NCES CIP Codes 40.xxxx
• Science Technologies: NCES CIP Codes 41.xxxx
• Medical Scientist (MS, PhD): NCES CIP Code 51.1401
Specifically excluded from the above codes, however, are all CIP codes ending in xx99, which are "catch-all" categories
usually, designated by "Other" in the CIP lists. Degrees associated with CIP codes ending in xx99 are not eligible for the
(2) The student has not previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.
(3)The student’s employer is registered in the E-Verify program, as evidenced by either a valid E-Verify company
identification number or, if the employer is using a designated agent to perform the E-Verify queries, a valid E-Verify
client company identification number, and the employer is a participant in good standing in the E-Verify program, as
determined by USCIS.
(4) The employer agrees to report the termination or departure of an OPT employee to the DSO at the student’s school or
through any other means or process identified by DHS if the termination or departure is prior to end of the authorized
period of OPT. Such reporting must be made within 48 hours of the event. An employer shall consider a worker to have
departed when the employer knows the student has left the employment or if the student has not reported for work for a
period of 5 consecutive business days without the consent of the employer, whichever occurs earlier.
Employment While 17-Month OPT Extension is Pending
An F–1 student who has properly filed Form I–765 prior to the end date of his or her post completion OPT is allowed to maintain
continuous employment for up to 180 days while USCIS adjudicates the request for the 17-month OPT extension.
Helpful Hints for Filling out Form I-538
• Print neatly or type in blue or black ink.
• Fill out only part A of the form, being sure to sign and date where indicated.
• Question 1: Put your family name in CAPITAL letters to distinguish it from your first name.
• Question 3: Your “student admission number” is your I-94 card number, not your UB student id number.
• Question 4: The date you were first granted F-1 student status is the date you first entered the U.S. or received a
change of status to F-1, not the day your F-1 visa was issued.
• Question 5: Do not abbreviate your level of education (bachelor, master, doctorate)
• Question 6: Do not abbreviate your major.
• Question 7: Write in: Optional Practical Training (before/following) degree completion in the field of (your
major). You may choose a starting date up to 60 days following the degree completion date indicated by your
Academic Advisor on the attached memo.
• Question 8: If you have not used any previous curricular or optional practical training, write in: “none”. If you
have used curricular or optional practical training, write in “(Full/Part) time (Curricular/Optional) P.T. from (start
date) to (end date).” Use a separate line for each period of practical training that was authorized. If necessary,
continue on the back of the form.
Helpful Hints for Filling out Form I-765
• I am applying for:
o Permission to accept employment for 12-month OPT
o Renewal of my permission to accept employment (attach previous employment authorization
document) for 17-month extension.
• Question 10: Your I-94 Number is printed on your I-94 card. Do not include your U.B. student id number.
• Question 11: Answer “Yes” if you have ever had a non-immigrant status that allowed employment, such as H-1B
or L-1, or if you have had any other employment card issued by the USCIS, such as F-1 economic hardship, or
any previous OPT authorizations. If you answer yes, attach documentation showing your work authorization, and
the USCIS Service Center you applied to, and write “granted” for “results.” Answer “No” if you have only
worked on-campus or with Curricular Practical Training.
• Question 14: enter the status you had when you last entered the U.S.
• Question 15: enter: F-1 Student
• Question 16: enter (c)(3)(A) for pre-completion OPT, (c)(3)(B) for post-completion OPT, and (c)(3)(C) for 17-
• Sign (please keep your signature within the lines and do not cross the lines), include your phone number, and date
under "Your Certification". Leave blank the last section unless someone else is preparing the I-765 form for you.
Last updated: 04/09
Application and Authorization Procedures
Bring to the International Student Services located on the Garden level of the Wahlstrom Library, G133:
• (1)For 12-month OPT following degree completion: copy of Application for Graduation signed by your
Academic Advisor, and an Academic Advisor Recommendation Form giving your completion date. Please note:
you must bring a copy of your transcript to your Academic Advisor before he/she signs your OPT
recommendation form. After you receive the signature, bring your transcript with the recommendation form
to this office.
(2) For OPT prior to degree completion: job offer letter.
(3) For 17-month OPT extension: (a) a copy of the degree reflecting the conferred degree and the major field
of study, and job offer letter closely related to your field of study; (b) a letter from the employer agreeing to report the
termination or departure of an OPT employee to International Student Services at UB if the termination or departure is
prior to end of the authorized period of OPT. Such reporting must be made within 48 hours of the event. An employer
shall consider a worker to have departed when the employer knows the student has left the employment or if the
student has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days without the consent of the employer,
whichever occurs earlier.
• Completed form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (Please note: For 17-month OPT
extension, student must list the employer’s E-Verfiy Company Identification Number or a valid E-Verify Client
Company Identification Number in Item 17). The USCIS will mail your employment card to the address you
give on the Form I-765.
• Completed form I-538, Certification by Designated School
• Signed Student Statement acknowledging awareness of responsibilities for maintaining status while on OPT
• Two identical color photos; passport style. For more information and samples, please go to
• Do not staple your photographs to your application.
• Do not cut your photos or glue/tape them to your application.
• Copy of all I-20 forms, front and back, (for example school transfers, extension, new program)
• Copy of form I-797 (approval notice for change of status) if you had a change of status to F-1
• Copy of both sides of your I-94 card. Please be sure the red ink stamp is legible on the copy.
• Copy from your passport: photo page, information page, expiration date, stamp of first entry into the US in F
status and F-1 visa
• Copy all EADs you have had before
• $340 filing fee, make a check or money order payable to "US Department of Homeland Security". Do not
send cash! Please make sure the date on your check is current!!
• zero balance with the University Bursar
• there must be no adverse "holds" on your student account (such as delinquent payments, non-compliance with
immunization, or judicial sanctions).
Upon the fulfillment of all application requirements, a DSO will recommend OPT and issue you a new I-20 form, which
you will need to sign prior to your application being mailed.
Authorization by the Immigration Services: Your permission to begin OPT is not finalized until you have received an
EAD card from the USCIS and until the start date on the OPT card is current.
Keep these instructions for your future reference! Please contact the International Student
Services if you have questions regarding your F-1 status during the period of your OPT.
Tel: (203)576-4395; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Reminder: Due to the increasing number of students applying for OPT, please allow at least two weeks
for your academic department to process this form. Thank you for your patience and cooperation!)
Academic Advisor Recommendation Form for 12-Month OPT
To: International Student Services
Re: Optional Practical Training
_____________________________________________________________ is majoring in
(student's name: first and last) (student number)
____________________________________ and is expected to complete degree
(major and, if applicable, concentration)
requirements for the ___________________ degree on _________________.
(level of education) (month/day/year*)
I recommend Optional Practical Training in the student's field of study.
*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.
Required student information- to be filled out by student:
Requested OPT start date (no later than 60 days following stated completion date above):_________
Requested OPT end date (not to exceed 12 months):_______________
e-mail:email@example.com phone number:___________________________
(street) (city) (state) (zip code)
home country address:_________________________________________________________
(province) (country) (postal code)
Please read this statement carefully before you sign it!!!
Student ID #:________________________________________________
Date of Birth: ________________________________________________
By signing this statement, I, ________________________________ (full name of student), confirm that I have been informed
of my responsibilities for maintaining status while on OPT by the DSO who recommended my OPT. To maintain my F-1 status
while on OPT, I must do the following:
1. I understand that I must mail and USCIS must receive my OPT application within 30 days of the date the DSO enters the
recommendation for OPT into my SEVIS record. If I mail it late, my OPT application may be denied.
2. Carefully check my name and OPT start/end date as soon as I receive the OPT receipt, approval notice and EAD card. If I see
any error, I will contact International Student Services immediately and submit a copy of above mentioned documents as proof
of error. I will monitor my OPT application case status at: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/caseStatusSearchDisplay.do
3. Submit a copy of my OPT card to International Student Services Office as soon as possible after receiving my card. I
understand that I cannot work until I receive the EAD card and the start date is current, and that I must work a minimum of 20
hours per week. I will keep the EAD envelope and sheet that is attached to the EAD card for my records.
4. Within 10 days of starting my job, inform International Student Services Office of my OPT employer’s name and address,
the start date of employment and any employer changes by providing the name and address of my new employer as well as any
unemployment periods more than 10 days. Any changes must also be submitted within 10 days.
5. Notify the International Student Services of changes to my name, telephone number, residential and mailing addresses within
10 days of any such changes.
6. If my OPT is pending, in addition to notifying International Student Services, I will also contact USCIS of any address or
name changes by calling the number of National Customer Service as listed on my OPT receipt or by going to the USCIS
7. I may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT carried out under my
initial post-completion OPT authorization. If I am granted a 17-month OPT extension, I may not accrue an aggregate of more
than 120 days of unemployment during the total OPT period comprising any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial
post-completion OPT authorization and the subsequent 17-month extension period.
8. If I am granted a 17-month OPT extension, I must make a validation report to International Student Services every six
months starting from the date the extension begins and ending when my F–1 status ends. I understand that this report is due to
International Student Services within 10 business days of each reporting date. If I fail to report, my SEVIS record will be
automatically terminated by USCIS.
9. I understand that if I do not complete degree requirements by my program end date due to poor academic performance, my
SEVIS record will be terminated and my OPT cancelled.
10. I understand that I will provide my information to International Student Services through my bridgeport.edu account.
This letter must be dated and signed by the employer, and printed on a company letterhead!
From: Name of the Employer
To: International Student Services
University of Bridgeport
126 Park Avenue, G133
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Re: Name of the Employee
Date of Birth
Statement from the Employer
To Whom It May Concern:
This is to confirm that we agree to report the termination or departure of the above-mentioned OPT employee to
the DSO at the University of Bridgeport through any other means or process identified by DHS if the
termination or departure is prior to the end of the authorized period of OPT. Such reporting must be made
within 48 hours of the event.
We shall consider the above-mentioned worker to have departed when we know he/she has left the employment
or if he/she has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days without our consent,
whichever occurs earlier.
17-Month OPT Extension Checklist
Required documents for 17-month OPT extension
The following must be completed or the OPT extension cannot be processed:
1. I-765 completed fully (signature between the two lines, not over, Question 11 dates means OPT
dates, eg. xx/xx/xxxx - xx/xx/xxxx)
2. Copies of OPT approval notice and OPT card (all EAD cards you have had)
3. Copy of Social Security Card
4. Copy of U.B. diploma
5. Copy of U.B. transcript
6. Copy of passport information pages(s); the period of validity of your passport needs to be 6 months
7. Copy of F-1 visa and I-94 card (front and back)
8. Copies of all previous I-20’s (pages 1 and 3); I-20 must be signed by you on page 1, Item 11; Any
stamp must be clearly readable
9. Job offer letter including detailed job description, verification of paid employment, supervisor’s
name and contact information on company letter head and signed by employer (original + copy)
10. Letter from employer on letter head re: 48 hours notice of termination (original + copy)
11. Check (+ copy)
12. Two passport photos (with name written in pencil on the back)
13. Student Statement (part of OPT instructions) completed and signed by student