Optional Practical Training may be used before or after graduation. Read more to find out which type of OPT is used in different circumstances.
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:
Optional Practical Training may be used during any of the following situations (or combination of the following situations):
a. during the semester (up to 20 hours per week of work)
b. during annual vacation periods (summer and winter breaks, full-time employment allowed)
c. after completion of all course requirements for the degree and while working on one’s thesis or dissertation (full-time employment allowed)
a. while working on one’s thesis or dissertation (full-time employment allowed)
b. after completion of study (full-time employment allowed)
Optional Practical Training may be authorized for a total of 12 months of full-time Pre-Completion and Post-Completion OPT, 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. Ex. A student who is authorized for 3 months of full‑time Pre-Completion OPT during the summer will have only 9 months of OPT remaining.
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. Ex. A student who is authorized for 4 months of part-time Pre-Completion OPT during the semester will have 10 months of full-time OPT remaining.
First, know your completion of study date. For most students, the completion of study date is the degree conferral date following their final semester. Degree conferral dates at UB are February 1, June 1 and September 1.
You cannot apply for Post-Completion OPT more than 90 days before your completion ofstudy date/degree conferral date. You can apply for Pre-Completion OPT up to 90 days before your desired employment start date.
Then, choose your employment authorization start and end date.You may choose any start date between your degree conferral date and the end of your 60-day grace period. For example:
|Degree Conferral Date||Can choose any start date between|
|June 1||June 1 and July 31|
|February 1||February 1 and April 1 (leap years are an exception)|
|September 1||September 1 and October 31|
Students planning to graduate September 1 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:
Next, 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 (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. The fee cannot be charged to your student account. After paying the fee, remember to print the receipt. Applicants for Pre-Completion OPT are not required to pay this fee.
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 “Application for Pre- and 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.
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 address to use depends on the mailing address listed on your I-765. Please refer to the USCIS website 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.
Historically, processing time at the USCIS was estimated to be approximately 12 weeks. 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.
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.
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, follow the instructions found at the bottom of this page.
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 24-Month OPT STEM Extension towards the end of your initial 12 months of Post-Completion OPT. (Please see here 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 see here for further information.)
If you maintained your immigration status during your Post-Completion OPT and do not continue onto the 24-Month 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.