Optional Practical Training is designed to provide you with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience in your major field of study for a maximum of one year. The work may be full time or part time, and may occur anywhere in the United States.
Temporary employment for practical training may be authorized:
During the student’s annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session, so long as the student is currently enrolled and eligible, and intends to register for the next term or session;
While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed twenty hours a week;
After completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent) if the student is in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program;
Prior to your I-20 expiration date;
After the completion ofthe course of study. A student must complete all practical training within a 14-month period following the completion of study.
USCIS (United States of Citizenship and Immigration Service) regulations refer to the date you complete all requirements for a program of study, not the date you participate in graduation ceremonies and receive your diploma. Students enrolled in the English as a Second Language program are not eligible for practical training after completion of their English studies.
You must fill out an application in the International Programs Office. If you meet all the requirements, the International Student Advisor will recommend to USCIS that you be allowed to participate in practical training. Applications are sent to the USCIS Service Center in Lincoln, Nebraska for processing.
The application takes 3-4 months to be approved. Most students applying for post-completion OPT apply at the beginning of their final semester.
There is a fee associated with this process and is subject to change. The fee is approximately $380; so you may want to prepare for this expense.