Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is post-completion employment authorization that is related to an F-1 student’s academic program. F-1 students are eligible for 365 days of OPT per higher degree level.

OPT Eligibility

In order to be eligible for post-completion OPT, you must:

  • Have maintained your F-1 status
  • Have been enrolled for at least one academic year (fall and spring semesters)
  • Have NOT been approved for 12+ months of full-time CPT
  • Have NOT been approved for OPT at the same degree level
  • File your application with USCIS no more than 90 days before your program completion and no more than 60 days after your program completion
  • File your application with USCIS no more than 30 days after the DSO recommendation on your new I-20
OPT Filing Instructions

Application Timeline

The earliest you can apply for OPT is 90 days before your program end date. It will take the USCIS Service Center approximately 3-5 months to process your application, so we recommend that you apply early. You cannot start employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.

The absolute latest you can apply for OPT is 60 days after your program end date. Please note that students who wait to apply until this time may be rejected and will lose time on their OPT authorization. It is recommended that students apply for OPT before their program end date/graduation.

You can start your OPT the day after you graduate or up to 60 days after graduation.

Spring 2019

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
February 18, 2019 May 19, 2019 May 20, 2019 – July 18, 2019

Summer 2019

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
May 18, 2019 August 16, 2019 August 17, 2019 – October 15, 2019

Fall 2019

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
September 22, 2019 December 21, 2019 December 22, 2019 – February 19, 2020

January Interim 2020

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
October 22, 2019 January 20, 20209 January 21, 2020 – March 20, 2020

Spring 2020

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
February 16, 2020 May 16, 2020 May 17, 2020 – July 15, 2020

May Interim I 2020

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
March 7, 2020 June 5, 2020 June 6, 2020 – August 4, 2020

May Interim II or Summer I 2020

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
April 11, 2020 July 10, 2020 July 11, 2020 – September 8, 2020

Summer II 2020

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
May 16, 2020 August 14, 2020 August 15, 2020 – October 13, 2020

Fall 2020

Earliest Date to Apply for OPT Program End Date OPT Start Date Range
September 20, 2020 December 19, 2020 December 20, 2020 – February 17, 2020