Optional Practical Training
As an F-1 student, you may only work off campus if you have received written work authorization (EAD Card) approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- You must be graduating or completing the coursework in the semester you are going to apply.
- You must apply before you complete your degree.
- You can work a total of 12 months per associate degree and 12 months per bachelor or other higher degree.
- The OPT training begins no more than 60 days after completion date on your I-20 and end no later than 14 months after the completion date.
- If you have done any full-time curricular practical training and you received pay, this will count as part of your 12 months.
- You may get paid for while working with your EAD card.
- You do not need to have a job to apply; you can get the job later.
- The employment must be in your field of study appropriate to your education level.
- Do not plan to leave the country before you get your EAD card or you may have difficulty returning.
- You will receive a notice of receipt from USCIS within 30 days. This includes a receipt number which can be used to check your status. Do not lose this notice!
- It will take approximately 90 days to get your EAD card from USCIS. You must come to the office to start your paperwork in January if you are graduating in May or September if you are graduating in December. For example: If you want to begin working on June 1, you must start by coming to see the Designated School Official by February 1.
- I urge you, not to work at all until you receive your permission card. You have the opportunity to work for 12 months legally with Optional Practical Training. Working illegally is one of the surest ways to get in permanent trouble with USCIS.
Here is the information we need from you before you can apply for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS for12 months of Optional Practical Training.
- Bring a check or money order payable to Department of Homeland Security for $380.00
- 2 full-face (passport style) color photos
- Your passport and I-94 card
- All copies of previous I-20s front and back
- Original Keystone I-20 with the DSO's signature
After we receive these items from you, we can start your other forms to send to USCIS.
Remember: It will take at least 90 days from this point to get your EAD card.