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Optional Practical Training

Optional Practice Training (OPT) allows F1 students the opportunity to work in their field of study in the United States up to one full year after completing a degree. This year is meant to help students obtain practical ‘hands-on’ experience and prepare for employment in their home countries.
 
Employment must be directly related to your studies. Employment outside the primary area of study is forbidden.
 
Note: Intensive English Program students are not eligible for OPT. If you have already had 12 months of OPT while obtaining an associate or higher degree, you are also ineligible. Contact us if you have any questions or read more about OPT.

Application process

1. Attend an OPT workshop offered by the NLC International Center. Find workshop dates and times by checking our Facebook page or asking at the International Center front desk. You cannot apply for OPT until you attend a workshop.
 
2. Submit these required forms and documents to the International Center as soon as possible after your OPT session:
  • completed USCIS Form I-765. Detailed instructions on how to fill out this form are provided at the OPT workshop (step 1).
  • two passport-sized photos with your name, I-94 and SEVIS numbers written on back of each photo with a soft felt tip pen
  • money order for the I-765 fee made out to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
  • two copies of each of these: your passport ID page, I-94 card front and back, F1 visa stamp, and all I-20s issued to you, including previous I-20s issued from any U.S. institutions you may have attended before coming to NLC
  • copy of your degree plan from eConnect, found in the "My Study Plan" section

3. The International Center will review your application and finalize your OPT packet. We will give you mailing instructions.

4. We will notify you as soon as USCIS replies with their decision, or if USCIS has additional questions.
 
5. If USCIS approves your application, you will come to the International Center to pick up the employment authorization (EAD) card and an updated I-20.

Taking the job

Your EAD card is authorization to find employment and to start work only on the date the EAD card becomes valid. Do not work outside of the EAD dates!
  
While on OPT you have up to 90 days to find a job. Failure to provide a job offer letter to the International Center within 90 days is considered a violation of F1 status.
 
For answers to additional questions, check the USCIS website or talk to an advisor at our office.

Life after OPT

When your OPT EAD card expires, you must stop working. You can transfer to another U.S. institution, file for a change of visa status with USCIS, or depart the United States for your home country. You must transfer or leave the country within 60 days of the EAD card’s expiration date.
 
If you are accepted to another U.S. college or university and transfer before the EAD card expires, you must stop working on the date of the transfer.
 
You are required to notify the International Center of your plans before the 60-day grace period expires. Otherwise your F1 status may be terminated.
 
If you depart the United States after completing OPT, please notify us in person or by email or fax. Please also provide a copy of your travel ticket. This will allow us to report your good standing to the government. If you stay in the United States by changing your visa status, you must provide us with a copy of the USCIS documents.
 
If you need help, contact us.