Optional Practical Training Information for Faculty and Staff

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is 12 months of off-campus work benefit for all F-1 visa holders seeking a degree. OPT can be used during a student’s program (Pre-Completion OPT) or after completing their program (Post-Completion OPT). Students can use some of their OPT before completed their program and some after, but cannot exceed a total of 12 months.

Useful OPT facts for departments:

  • OPT has to be related to the students program of study
  • Students have to have been enrolled for at least two consecutive semesters before they can begin OPT
  • Students cannot engage in Pre-Completion OPT after their program ends, or Post-Completion OPT before their program ends
  • OPT is requested through United States Citizen and Immigration Services and can take 3-4 months to process
  • Students cannot work before they have received their approval and Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • ISSS requires that all students attend an OPT workshop before applying for OPT

The OPT advisor letter is an important part of the OPT application and verifies that the student is in good academic standing and when the student is supposed to complete their program.** Depending on the department, this letter may be completed by a professor, dean, program manager, or the department program assistant. It is not as important who completes the letter, but that this individual has the ability to verify the information on the letter. Please refer to the advisor letter template for a sample of the needed information.

**Some advisors have asked how they can know if a student will complete their program by a certain date. It is fine in the advisor letter to say that the student is “expected” to complete their program, since there is really no way to know before the end of the term.

*Please use this information for your individual understanding and to advise students about academic related issues.  ISSS should be the sole advising body for students seeking information about OPT, as the regulations are much more detailed and nuanced as outlined here.