Optional Practical Training is designed to provide international students with employment experience in their field of study, complementing academic work.
Optional Practical Training Request - PDF
Students remain in F‑1 status and must comply with F‑1 regulations.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service authorizes Optional Practical Training by issuing an Employment Authorization Document as official approval.
A job offer is not required when applying.
Changes to degree level or academic concentration that are not yet reflected on the I‑20 must be updated prior to applying for Optional Practical Training.
Undergraduate students must declare an academic major before applying for Optional Practical Training.
Types of Optional Practical Training Employment may be part‑time (while school is in session) or full‑time (during summer or after completion of course requirements), and may occur anywhere in the United States.
Timeframe F‑1 students may be authorized for up to 12 months of standard Optional Practical Training for each higher‑education level, , bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Any pre‑completion training is deducted from the total available for that degree level, part‑time at half rate.
For example, six months of part‑time equals three months deducted from the 12‑month total.
17-Month STEM Extension The 12-month limit can be extended by 17 months—for a total of 29 months—for certain students with a degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field.
Requirements for the 17-Month STEM Extension:
Bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field designated on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) STEM Designated Degree Program List
Participation in Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study
A job offer from an employer registered with the E‑Verify employment verification system E‑Verify information is available at www.uscis.gov/e-verify.
Recommendation from the International Student Advisor after verifying eligibility
Students must not have previously received a 17‑month STEM extension.
Students must apply for the STEM Extension using Form I‑765 and pay an application fee.
Students who file a timely application for the STEM Extension will be able to continue employment while the application is pending, until a final decision is made or for up to 180 days.
Consult the International Student Advisor for more information.