Optional Practical Training
Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, or "OPT", is off-campus work authorization in your field of study. If granted by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) the authorization is for 12 months and 40 hours per week (full time).
Unlike CPT, no job offer is required to apply for OPT. Students must apply PRIOR to completion of studies (3 months). Training is limited to a maxium of 12 months following the completion of study.
When to Apply:
You are strongly advised to apply 90 days (3 months) prior to your graduation date.
- Pick up your post-completion OPT packet from the International Student Office
- Complete Part A of the Request for OPT form and have your Academic Advisor fill out Part B Complete you I-765 available in the OPT packet and follow instructions carefully. Form also available online at : http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-765.pdf
- Make appointement with International Student Advisor in the International Student Office (ext. 5031). Bring all documents listed below.
- The DSO, will review all your documents and create a new I-20 recommending OPT.
- Mail all documents to USCIS Center in Texas (address included in OPT packet)
OPT Application Checklist:
- Request for Optional Practical Training Form (for DSO use; do not mail this form to USCIS)
- Photocopy of SEVIS I-20 w/OPT recommendation
- Form I-765* (original)
- 2 Color Photographs (refer to the specifications)
- Application Fee, $180 (check/money order payable to USCIS)
- Photocopies of Passport Identification Page
- Photocopy of most recent F-1 Visa
- Photocopy of I-94 (front and back)
Once your OPT has been filed and accepted:
Notifying Address Changes:
While on OPT, you must update any change of residential address by notifying the DSO.
Checking Your Application Status:
You will receive a Notice of Action from USCIS after your application has been filed. With the LIN number on your Notice of Action, you will be able to check the status of your application at the USCIS website. You can also check the Service Center processing dates for applications at the website. You must have a receipt number when you check. You can find the receipt number on the receipt notice sent to you by BCIS or on the back of your cancelled check if you have not yet received a notice of action.
Traveling Outside the U.S.:
You are advised not to travel outside the U.S. after graduation and before receiving an EAD. Once you receive an EAD, you may travel and re-enter the U.S. to resume employment. (If you do not have a job, travel at your own risk.)
Please carry with you upon your return the following items:
- A valid passport
- A valid F-1 visa, except for a short trip to Canada or Mexico (if your visa has expired, it's unlikely that you will be issued a new one for OPT purposes alone)
- SEVIS I-20 endorsed by an International Student Advisor at WSU within the previous six (6) months
- Valid EAD
- A letter from your employer stating that you are re-entering the U.S. in order to continue employment.
If you are traveling home due to an emergency, ISS recommends that you carry with you some verification of the emergency (physician's note, death certificate, etc.)
If you do not receive an EAD card within 90 days of the receipt date on your Notice of Action, you may request an interim EAD at a local USCIS office. Take your passport, Notice of Action, photocopy of your I-765, and SEVIS I-20 with you. Processing times for Interim EAD vary depending on USCIS office locations.
As of April 2008, any unemployment equal to ninety (90) days or more is grounds for termination of F-1 status and OPT. Some volunteer jobs are accepted as OPT, so it is best to volunteer or at least work part-time to avoid your OPT being terminated an thus risking your F-1 status.
International students of OPT must report the following:
- Employer name
- Employer address
- Start date
- End date (if applicable)
- Any periods of unemployment
You must have an employment authorization document (EAD) in your possession before beginning work.
*** IMPORTANT ***
You must have a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in your possession before beginning employment and can be employed only during the validity dates specified on your EAD.
OPT will automatically terminate if you transfer to another school or begin a new educational program.
Upon completion of OPT, you must take one of the following actions to maintain your legal status
- Depart the U.S. within 60 days of EAD expiration;
- Be admitted to a new educational program and obtain a new I-20 within 60 days of EAD expiration; or
- Apply for a different immigration status with USCIS and receive a Notice of Action before EAD expiration.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is approval for off-campus employment for an F-1 student enrolled on a full-time basis at Union University and whose off-campus employment is an integral part of a student's field of study.
To be eligible for CPT, you must:
- Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year (9 months)
- Have a job offer which is credit-bearing internship or practicum required by the student's field of study or is a required portion of a class in which a student is currently enrolled.
- Apply before beginning employment and maintain lawful F-1 status at the time of application.
Procedures for CPT Approval:
- Obtain a Curricular Practical Training Packet from the International Student Office (H-41, International Student Lounge).
- Have you Academic Advisor write approved letter.
- Show proof of job through a written job offer indicating job titles, dates of employment, number of hours and location of employment.
- Complete Section A of Form I-538 provided by the DSO in the CPT Packet. Also available online in F-1 Forms.
- Submit the completed Academic Advisor letter, Employer letter, Form I- 538 and your current original I-20 to the DSO in International Student Office.
The International Student Liaison MUST approve CPT BEFORE you begin practical training.