Post-Completion Optional Practical Training may be used before or after graduation. Read more to find how Post-Completion OPT is used in different circumstances.
Any changes or updates related to OPT are regularly updated on our COVID FAQ page. Please be sure to check the page for information before contacting ISS.
Optional Practical Training is an F-1 student benefit granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It allows you to work off-campus in a job related to your major. It is meant to supplement your academic experience with practical experience.
To be eligible for Optional Practical Training, you must document that:
If you re-enter the U.S. using an Initial I-20 (i.e. an I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number), you not eligible for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training until you complete one academic year (two semesters) as a full-time student after returning from your leave. Time spent as a full-time student prior to taking a Leave of Absence cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.
Post-Completion Optional Practical Training may be used:
a. after completion of study (full-time employment allowed)
b. while working on one’s thesis or dissertation (full-time employment allowed)
Optional Practical Training may be authorized for a total of 12 months (full-time), which must be completed within 14 months following the completion of your course of study.
Any full-time Optional Practical Training authorization you receive is subtracted from your total 12‑month period.
Any part‑time OPT (20 hours per week or less) is deducted at the rate of one day of practical training for every two part‑time days of OPT authorized.
For most students, the completion of study date is their degree conferral date or I-20 program end date following their final semester.
You cannot apply for Post-Completion OPT more than 90 days before your completion of study date/program end date.
You may choose any start date between the day after your degree conferral date/I-20 program end date and the end of your 60-day grace period. For example:
|Degree Conferral Date||Can choose any start date between|
|June 1||June 2 and July 31|
|February 1||February 2 and April 1 (leap years are an exception)|
|August 31||September 1 and October 30|
Students planning to graduate August 31 must ensure they are enrolled during the summer term in order to be eligible for Post-Completion OPT .
For post-completion OPT your employment end date is one year from the start date you chose.
You may choose an employment start date before your degree conferral date only if you are a PhD student working full-time on your thesis or dissertation
We recommend that you submit your OPT application to ISS 90 days prior to your completion of study/degree conferral date to allow sufficient time for ISS and USCIS processing. The earliest we can process your OPT I-20 is 90 days before your degree conferral date/I-20 program end date (or 90 days before the date you will complete all degree requirements).
The latest date that you can apply for OPT is 60 days after your degree conferral date. We do not recommend waiting until the end of your 60-day grace period to apply for Post-Completion OPT.
If your OPT application is received by USCIS more than 60 days after your completion of course of study date, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR OPT BENEFIT.
Your application must be received by the USCIS within 30 days of the issuance of your OPT I-20 and the signature on your Form I-765. If your OPT application does not comply with this requirement, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR OPT BENEFIT.
In this case your completion of study date for the purpose of your OPT application will be the degree conferral date for the semester during which you completed your studies.
You may submit your application up to 90 days prior to completing one academic year, provided that the period of employment will not begin until the completion of the full academic year.
1. Pay the UB OPT fee. The fee is $55 and must be paid online. It cannot be charged to your student account. After paying the fee, remember to save the receipt.
2. Login to myISSS by clicking on the blue “LOGIN” button on the left side of the screen and using your UBIT Name and Password. Do NOT click on “Administrative Services for University Departments”.
Email our office at email@example.com.
3. Click on “F-1 Practical Training Applications” and then “POST-Completion Optional Practical Training”.
4. You must complete the entire e-form and upload all required documents before you can submit your application. Only documents saved as a PDF or JPEG are acceptable. You must upload the following:
5. “Submit”. After reviewing your application, ISS will enter your OPT into SEVIS, which will produce a new I-20 with the OPT recommendation. You will receive an email when your I-20 is ready for pick-up.
Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ISS processing times for this request are longer than usual. Please refer to our COVID-19 FAQ page and check the ISS Services section for details.
USCIS published information on fee increases as a Final Rule effective October 2, 2020.
Some USCIS forms will change, including Form I-765. USCIS is providing a grace period of up to 60 days in which both the previous and the new versions of certain forms will be accepted as long as payment of the new, correct fees accompanies the forms.
Applicants and petitioners must use the new or revised form by October 2, 2020.
1) the issuance of your I-20 with OPT recommendation, and
2) the signature on your Form I-765.
OPT applications must not be received by the USCIS more than 90 days before the Program End Date on your I-20. If an application is received by the USCIS more than 90 days before the Program End Date, the application may be denied.
Be sure to photocopy your entire OPT application for your personal records.
It is extremely important that applicants for OPT submit a complete and accurate application to the USCIS. The USCIS recently announced that they have full discretion to deny applications without first issuing a Request For Evidence (RFE). This means that if there is a mistake in your application or you forget to include a required document, USCIS may deny your application. For additional information see USCIS RFE AND NOID POLICY.
The USCIS address to use depends on the physical address listed on your I-765. Please refer to the USCIS lockbox facilities page for details.
You should use a reliable, express delivery service (e.g. UPS, FedEx) to mail your application. Utilizing an express delivery service will enable you to track your application and its delivery. Please save your receipt.
If your mailing address changes after you submit your OPT application to USCIS, you must notify the USCIS, the Post Office and ISS of your change in address within 10 days of the change. Failure to notify USCIS and the Post Office in a timely manner could result in delays in receiving your EAD.
To notify the USCIS, use their online Change of Address Form. You will need your OPT Application Receipt Number to complete the form. If you move to a new address, you should also notify the US Postal Service (USPS) using their online form. Finally, to notify ISS, log into myISSS and select F-1 Practical Training Applications from the drop-down menu. Then complete the Update Pending OPT Student Contact Information e-form.
Currently, processing time at the USCIS can be as long as 5 months. However, processing times vary widely, depending on the time of year and workload at the Service Center to which you send your application. We encourage you to regularly review the processing times found on the USCIS website.
If you have a job offer and 120 days has passed since the Receipt Date on your I797 Receipt Notice, you may contact us for assistance. We can inquire with USCIS about the status of your application. However, we cannot guarantee that our inquiry will result in an expedite or change in processing times.
Once you have waited 150 days, or beyond the current maximum published USCIS processing times, we recommend that you take the following actions:
As long as USCIS receives your complete application in a timely manner you may remain in the U.S. while your application is pending.
USCIS expedite criteria are very strict and it can be difficult to provide sufficient evidence to meet the USCIS criteria. Having a job offer or the possibility of losing that job do not generally qualify for an expedite unless you can effectively make an argument that your situation does meet the criteria. If considering an expedite, please ensure that you have sufficient documentation and a compelling argument.
Additional information on expedite criteria and how to file can be found on the USCIS page.
We highly recommend that you keep your employer informed about the status of your OPT application. We also recommend communicating that you cannot confirm exactly when your application will be approved, but that you can provide estimated processing times. We have heard from many students whose employers agreed to change their start date multiple times due to processing delays, so it is important to discuss your situation with your employer.
If your employer wants additional information about OPT processing, they are welcome to contact ISS. If you would like your employer to speak to us about the specifics of your case, please send us an email authorizing ISS to discuss your individual situation.
You cannot begin employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS and the “start date” printed on the EAD card is effective.
Before planning any travel while on OPT we recommend that you review our website.
If you travel outside the U.S. while your application for Post-Completion OPT is pending at the USCIS Service Center, it is best to re-enter the U.S. to search for employment BEFORE your I-20 expires (Refer to the Program End Date on your I-20). Please consider the following:
Since there is no way to predict when your OPT will be approved or if the USCIS will find a problem with your application, we recommend that you think carefully before you plan to travel while your OPT application is pending.
Review the Maintaining Status While on Post-Completion OPT section of our website for information on acceptable types of employment, unemployment limits, reporting employment, and employment documentation
If you do not have employment yet or do not have health insurance coverage through your employer, you may be eligible to purchase the SUNY health insurance from the Student Medical Insurance Office, 1Capen (Tel. 645-3036; firstname.lastname@example.org). In order to enroll during OPT, there can be no interruption in your health insurance coverage. Application deadlines do apply. Contact the Student Medical Insurance Office for more information.
You become eligible to apply for another 12 months of OPT if you change to a higher degree level and meet the requirements again.
If you have a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree in an eligible field, you may be eligible for the OPT STEM Extension towards the end of your initial 12 months of Post-Completion OPT. Please visit our STEM OPT page for further information.
If your employer has filed an H-1B petition on your behalf, you may be eligible for the Cap Gap Extension. Please visit our Cap Gap page for further information.
If you maintained your immigration status during your Post-Completion OPT and do not continue onto the OPT STEM Extension, you will have a 60-day grace period after your Post-Completion OPT EAD expires. You are permitted to remain inside the U.S. during those 60 days to prepare for your departure, apply to change your status (if eligible) or begin a new degree program. If you are not admitted to a new degree program or do not submit a change-of-status application before the end of the 60 days, you must leave the U.S.
During your 60-day grace period, you may not work. If you fail to depart the U.S. before the end of your 60-day Grace period (if eligible), you will begin to accrue unlawful presence.