Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in your program of study to off-campus work in your major field. After completing nine consecutive months of full-time study, a student in F-1 status may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for what is known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). This authorization process can take up to three months.

The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level. OPT may occur during a program of study (Pre-Completion OPT), which restricts the student to working part-time during school session or upon completion of the degree (Post-Completion OPT) and in either case the student is limited to 12 months. The employment must be relevant to the student’s major field of study. It is not necessary to have an offer of employment to apply for work authorization but be aware that students who are approved and receive their EAD cards are only allowed to have a total of 90 accrued days of unemployment over the duration of their OPT.

Before completion of studies, a student may obtain work authorization:

  • Part-time (20 hours a week) when school is in session. The time worked is deducted from the 12 month total but on a part-time basis (i.e., six months of part-time work equals a three month deduction.)
  • Full-time during the school vacation periods.

How to determine when to apply:

  1. Pre-Completion OPT - To be eligible you must:
    1. have been in full-time student status for at least one academic year by the requested start date of your OPT
    2. be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of the application
    3. have not used OPT at the same degree level previously
  2. Post-Completion OPT –
    1. form I-765 must be received by the USCIS no sooner than 90 days before graduation and no later than 60 days after graduation.
    2. within that time line you then determine what your ideal start date would be
      • do you want to start immediately after graduation or do you want a little more time before starting?
        • the best way to decide when to start the application process is to pick when you would like to begin your OPT and count exactly three months forward from that date as the paperwork is all time sensitive.
        • For example: if you ideally want to begin your OPT on June 1 then you should have all of your paperwork gathered to begin this process by April 1.

Application process for Optional Practical Training

  1. Obtain a transcript from the Student Records and Financial Services Office or print from BannerWeb, showing full-time enrollment for last two semesters.
  2. If you have any questions about whether or not you have met the graduation requirements meet with your academic advisor BEFORE applying for Optional Practical Training employment authorization.
  3. INS Form I-765 (link updated on 10/12/2020) "Application for Employment Authorization" (I-765 instructions (link updated on 10/12/2020)). Please print the form on two separate pages rather than the front and back of one page​. Always consult U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for most up to date forms, fees and filing information.
    • The mailing address you list should be one that you can safely receive mail for at least four months after mailing in your application.
    • For Post-Completion OPT mark: (c) (3) (B) in item 27. For Pre-Completion OPT mark (c) (3) (A)
    • Always consult the I-765 instructions and reach out to the International Student Advisor (DSO or PDSO) with any questions.
  4. Have two (2) "Green Card" color photos taken within 30 days of making the application. These photos should meet U.S. Passport photo standards (2 inches x 2 inches), and it is advised that you do not wear glasses.
    • There a number of places that take passport and "green card" pictures, such as Alfred Travel, which is located at 11 West University Street and is within walking distance to campus.
    • LIGHTLY, in pencil, put your name and admission number on the back of each photo.
  5. Make an appointment with the International Student Advisor to complete the application process. Bring to the meeting:
    • The completed I-765 form (see I-765 instructions for proper completion) - be advised that it is preferable to print the form on two separate pages rather than the front and back of one page.
    • Form G-1145 (notification form)
    • The two photos
    • A check or money order for filing fee (see amount under filing fee tab on USCIS site) made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    • ALL I-20s issued to you by ALL of the school you have attended since beginning F-1 status
    • Your I-94 card
    • ALL previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD cards)
    • Unexpired passport and visa.
    • The office will also need verification that you are indeed on track for graduation within the timeline that makes sense for your application (done through mid-term grade review and academic advisor confirmation)

The DSO will not be able to make a recommendation for OPT on your I-20 without all of this information.

All of the necessary photocopies for your application and for your office file will be made in the International Education Office and your application will be assembled for you in the correct order. Your original I-20(s), I-94 card and passport will be returned to you.

For further instructions, please refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Web site.

The USCIS processing time can be up to three months. Be sure to apply for work authorization well before you will need it. You cannot begin employment without your EAD card.

Reporting duties once you secure employment:

It is your responsibility to notify the DSO or PDSO of at Alfred State with any changes in employment or personal information within within 10 days of it changing

  1. These changes include email, phone, residential address, job, and job address and all reportable details needed to log the employment in SEVIS
    • It is very important that you have a personal email logged in SEVIS that you check regularly as they will communicate directly with you through that email.
    • On March 23, 2018 the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) launched a portal for F-1 students participating in post-completion OPT. It is essential that your P/DSO has your most up to date email in SEVIS so that you receive the invite and access to this portal. Additional information about this new feature and the capabilities it gives students can be found on the Study In The States OPT announcement page. We encourage any student applying for OPT to look at this information and check back with Study in the States resources for ongoing updates.

Details needed for Employer(s):

  • Employers official name/company name
  • I will also need their EIN (Employer Identification Number)
  • Full-time or Part-time status (more than 20 hours a week is full time)
  • Employers address
  • Your job title
  • Your start date/end date

Your Supervisor’s Information Including:

  • Full name
  • Telephone number
  • Email address

And a brief personal statement, explaining how the particular employment relates directly to your field of study.