Employment / Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an off-campus employment authorization for eligible F-1 students who wish to work in a job related to their field of study. OPT can be done during your studies (pre-completion OPT), after completion of your studies, (post-completion OPT) or a combination of both.

F-1 students with certain science, technology, engineering or mathematics degrees can extend their Post-Completion OPT. For more information, visit 24-Month STEM OPT Extension.

Pre-Completion OPT

Pre-Completion OPT is for eligible F-1 students interested in working off-campus before graduation where employment is related to their field of study or major.

Eligibility for Pre-Completion OPT

F-1 students are eligible to apply for Pre-Completion OPT if they meet all of the following requirements:

  • In valid F-1 status for one academic year (two semesters)
  • In good academic standing and not on academic probation: minimum GPA for undergraduates is 2.0; minimum GPA for graduate students is 3.0
  • Pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree; or I-20 approved certificate program
  • Not been granted 12 months of cumulative full-time Curricular Practical Training in their current academic program
  • Eligible to enroll in the next term and will graduate in a future term

Post-Completion OPT

Post-Completion OPT is for eligible F-1 students interested in working in the United States after graduation where employment is related to their field of study or major.

Eligibility for Post-Completion OPT

F-1 students are eligible to apply for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) if they meet all of the following requirements:

  • In valid status and enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (two semesters)
  • In good academic standing and not on academic probation: minimum GPA for undergraduates is 2.0; minimum GPA for graduate students is 3.0
  • Pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s or a doctoral degree; or I-20 approved certificate program
  • Not been granted 12 months of cumulative full-time Curricular Practical Training in their current academic program
  • Has met or is in the process of meeting all graduation requirements (including English writing proficiency requirement, comprehensive exams, projects or thesis) and will no longer be enrolling in the next semester or session

When to Apply for OPT

OPT Type Graduation Term Graduate Date Deadline to Submit to ISS Application Window Range of OPT Start Dates
Pre-Completion Future Semester
*Cannot apply during your final term
Semester End Date VARIES depending on desired start date VARIES depending on desired start date VARIES
Post-Completion

Fall 2020

01/04/2021

02/15/2021

10/06/2020–03/05/2021

01/05/2021–03/05/2021

Post-Completion

Spring 2021

05/28/2021

07/15/2021

02/27/2021 - 7/27/2021

05/29/2021 - 7/27/2021

Post-Completion

Summer 2021

08/17/2021

10/1/2021

05/19/2021–10/16/2021

08/18/2021–10/16/2021

Post-Completion

Fall 2021

01/03/2022

02/15/2022

10/05/2021–03/04/2022

01/04/2022–03/04/2022

How to Apply for OPT

  1. View the ISS Optional Practical Training (OPT) Overview Video. You are responsible for understanding the information in this video prior to proceeding to Step 2.
  2. Submit the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Request Form. Allow 10-15 business days for processing by ISS. Your electronic OPT Recommendation I-20 will be sent to your CSUF email address.
  3. Print your electronic OPT I-20. Sign and date the Student Attestation section in black ink. 
  4. Follow the ISS Guidelines for Preparing and Mailing your OPT Application to USCIS. If you want us to review the assembly of your documents, please schedule a virtual appointment with an ISS Advisor.
  5. ISS highly recommends that you mail your OPT Application Packet to USCIS within 3 business days of receiving your OPT I-20 from the ISS Office. USCIS will deny your application if it is not received within 30 calendar days of the date your OPT Request was processed by an ISS Advisor.

Note: For current USCIS processing time, please refer to this USCIS webpage. On February 26, 2021, USCIS announced flexibilities for certain students affected by delayed receipt notices for Form I-765. If you have questions about your application, schedule an appointment with an ISS Advisor. 

Maintaining Status While on Post-Completion OPT

After USCIS approves your OPT application and you receive your EAD card, please upload a copy of your OPT EAD card directly to: https://uee-file01.fullerton.edu/ using these instructions

You must report to ISS within 10 days of your employment start date by submitting the OPT Employer Update form.

Visit our Maintaining Status While on Post-Completion OPT webpage to learn more about how to maintain status.

Additional Resources on OPT