OPT | Optional Practical Training
Post-Graduation Work Authorization for F-1 Students
OPT stands for Optional Practical Training and is a benefit of the F-1 student visa. OPT is work authorization for F-1 students after graduation. Students are eligible to apply for OPT the semester that they will graduate. OPT allows 1 year (up to 3 years for STEM) work authorization anywhere within the US after graduation but only within the student’s field of study/major.
Learn more below:
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment opportunity for F-1 students, available after the completion of each degree level – BS, MS, PhD.
- Students wishing to take advantage of OPT work authorization, must apply.
- Employment should be in the field of study. In addition to a full time position, part-time work and/or internship opportunities are also permitted.
- Students must obtain employment 90 days after their OPT start date (the date chosen for their I-20). Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during OPT.
- OPT is for 12 months, with a possible 24 month extension for STEM students.
- STEM extensions should be filed 120 days before OPT ends.
- Students MUST attend a GVSU OPT Processing Event to apply for OPT.
- GVSU strongly discourages students from applying electronically through USCIS.
- Students may travel while on OPT. They must have a signed I-20, valid passport, F-1 visa, I-94, and a job offer to re-enter the U.S.
- OPT applications typically take 3 months to process though 120 days is the time allotted.
What can I expect after my application is submitted?
- First, students will receive a receipt letter with a reference number. This receipt will enable you to track your application status online.
- After the OPT application has been submitted students SHOULD NOT leave the U.S. until they receive their OPT card. Students who have to leave will forfeit their application and will need to re-apply.
- All students on OPT are required to report to the Director of International Student and Scholar Services within 10 days of:
- Any change in name or address
- The name and address of their employer
- Any change to the name and address of the employer
- Any interruption of employment (laid off dates)
- Students on OPT are reported to USCIS by GVSU.
- Students on OPT are eligible to take classes at any institution in the U.S. as long as they are also working.
- If a student has concluded their OPT status, and is pursuing another degree, they must contact PIC so that PIC may transfer their SEVIS record.
- Students on OPT are required to complete tax forms by April 15th.
- Students interested in the H-1 process should attend the Legal Seminar on working after graduation hosted each semester by the Padnos International Center.
The Padnos International Center's International Student Services (ISS) hosts an OPT Processing Event four times a year:
- September (Fall graduates)
- January (Winter graduates)
- March (Spring graduates)
- May (Summer graduates)
Follow our 8 step application process detailed below to compile your own OPT application.
Please DO NOT submit your OPT application electronically to USCIS until further notice. Mail your documents.
Questions? Contact GVSU's ISS Team at [email protected]