What is OPT? It is a one-year period for F-1 students to work in the US in a field related to their area of studies/major. For example: Computer Science/Management Information Systems graduates should be employed in an information technology area.
How long is OPT? A maximum of 12 months, but a 17 month extension is available for students with specific STEM majors listed here: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm
When does it start? The starting date depends on you, the student. You will need to decide when you will be done with your program in order to determine the starting date. You should discuss this with the Immigration & Visa Coordinator.
Where to apply? The International Students and Scholars Office in 113 Maucker Union.
How to Apply? To apply, you will need to work with the Immigration & Visa Coordinator. Before scheduling an appointment to meet with the Immigration & Visa Coordinator, please prepare the following items:
2 passport sized photos of yourself taken at a full frontal view, with the subject looking straight at the camera. For more detailed guidelines
Copies of your passport and visa
A printout of your electronic I-94 record (available at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html), or copies of the front and back of your I-94 card
How long does the application take? Approximately 90 days.
Can I work before approval is granted? You cannot start working before your application is approved.
Can I start searching for a job before the approval is granted? YES!
Where can I work? Anywhere in the US. You must keep the Immigration & Visa Coordinator informed of your residential address whenever it changes.
Can I leave the US for a visit while waiting for approval? Yes, but you should discuss the timing of your travel with the Immigration & Visa Coordinator in advance.
What status do I hold with an OPT? Your status will remain F-1 while you are authorized for OPT. This means that the usual travel policies apply during your OPT period, and you remain eligible to apply for a new F-1 visa if you travel outside of the U.S. during your OPT time and your current visa has expired.
Can I do more than one OPT? Yes! 12 months of OPT are available per each academic level from baccalaureate through doctoral. Only one year is allowed per each level. You cannot “save” 12 months of OPT from a bachelor’s degree and ask for 24 months following a subsequent master’s degree.
Can I be a full-time student while on OPT? NO! You cannot be enrolled as a full-time student while on OPT. Your OPT will be automatically canceled if you transfer to another school or change degree levels. This means that you cannot be a full-time student while working full-time with your OPT. However, you can be a part-time student. Be sure to consult with the Immigration & Visa Coordinator before taking any classes while on OPT.