Optional Practical Training is for undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or who have been pursuing their degrees and are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for, at most, 12 months or up to an addtional 24 months with an extension on a student visa for practical training in their field of study.
All students must complete the tutorial and certificate through blackboard before the IC will accept your OPT application.
For more information regarding OPT and to begin the application process, please review the International Center OPT Tutorial in Blackboard.
OPT I-20 Application Process
- Review the International Center OPT Tutorial on Blackboard. To access and self-enroll in the course, please use the instructions found here.
- Complete the OPT Tutorial quiz and print out your Certificate of Completion.
- Complete the OPT form with your Academic Advisor and submit to the International Center with the Certificate of Completion from the OPT Tutorial.
- Effective March 1st, 2018, pay the $100 OPT Administrative Fee, and submit a copy of payment receipt to the International Center with your application. The OPT fee can be paid here.
OPT Processing Delays
USCIS occassionally experiences delays when processing OPT applications. While USCIS is expected to act on each case within 90 days, it can sometimes take longer. The longest processing time we have seen so far is 135 days.
What causes the USCIS OPT processing delays?
The cause of OPT processing delays is unclear. Processing times have always fluctuated due to the varying volume of applications (Ex. more applications around spring graduation time and fewer applications in the summer) and changes in the number of USCIS officers assigned to process work authorization applications.
How can I track the case status of my OPT application?
You can track the current case status of your OPT application by entering your USCIS receipt number here.
After applying for OPT, how long should I wait before trying to contact USCIS?
Please note that excessive contact with USCIS can actually slow down your OPT application processing time. It's best to keep your contact with USCIS as minimal as possible. For guidance on when and how you can monitor your OPT application, please click here.
What does it mean if my case has been transferred?
The USCIS Lockbox may transfer your case to another Service Center. This does not mean that anything is wrong with your case. These transfers occur in order to balance the volume of applications and reduce the effect of delays. When the USCIS Lockbox sends your case to another Service Center, you will receive a notice with your receipt number.
What do I tell my employer? How can I explain the processing delay to them?
If the processing delay is going to affect your employment start date, keep your employer updated on what you have done to expedite the process. Explain to your employer that you can only start working after the start date on your EAD card and after you receive the EAD card in the mail.
While on your OPT period, you are required to make reports to the International Center as part of maintaining your F-1 status. It is important that you follow these reporting requirements to avoid falling out of status.
Please see the link below to understand how these requirements affect you.