Optional Practical Training

Post-study work visas, which also known as post-graduation work permits, allow international students who have completed their studies in a foreign country to remain there temporarily for work. These visas are typically designed to encourage talented international graduates to contribute to the workforce and economy of their host country. 


The US offers Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F1 visa holders that allows them to work in their field of study for up to 12 months after completing their academic program. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) graduates may be eligible for a 24-month extension of OPT.  


F-1 students who have been enrolled full-time in a SEVIS-approved academic program for at least one academic year are generally eligible to apply for OPT. They must have lawful F-1 status at the time they apply for OPT.  Students should request a recommendation for OPT from the Designated School Official (DSO) at their institution and must fill out the Form I -765 application for employment authorization.   


Any necessary supporting documentation should be submitted with the I-765 form, along with the required fee, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon approval of an OPT application, USCIS issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows the student to to legally work in the United States during the authorized period. 


OPT employment authorization can begin after the completion of an academic program and must be completed within 14 months of the program’s end date. All work done during OPT must be directly related to the student’s major field of study (listed on their Form I-20, the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status). Students must report any changes in employment to their DSO with specified timeframes to maintain their legal status. 


OPT presents a valuable opportunity for international students to gain practical experience in their chosen field and enhance their skills and knowledge prior to returning to their home country.  If you have the opportunity to participate in OPT, you should!  


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