An F-1 student may apply to USCIS for temporary employment authorization for Optional Practical Training (OPT) directly related to the student’s major area of study. The student may not begin OPT until the date indicated on his or her employment authorization document (EAD). [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A)]
Preconditions: Students must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a USCIS approved school for one academic year (consecutive terms) before being eligible for OPT. Available only while the student is in F-1 status. Students must attend a work clinic before being approved for OPT.
IF a student has completed 12 months (365 days) of Full-Time CPT, they are ineligible for OPT.
Duration: An F-1 student can be approved for 12 months (365 days) of OPT after graduation. Students that are STEM eligible can be approved for an additional 24 months. See the page on STEM extensions for more information.
Offer of Employment: No employment offer is required, but a student is expected to work or be actively seeking employment after the OPT EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is issued.
Field/Level of Work: To maintain status, a position of employment must be level appropriate to the completed degree. Additionally, the position must be related to the completed academic program of most recent completion.
Hours per Week: To maintain status while on OPT, a student must maintain at least 20 hours of employment, internship, or volunteering per week.
Deadlines for Submitting OPT Application: The student must properly file the OPT application to USCIS up to 90 days before their program end date and no later than 60 days after their program end date.