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

Spring 2020

05/22/2020

07/10/2020

02/22/2020 - 7/21/2020

05/23/2020 - 7/21/2020

Post-Completion

Summer 2020

08/18/2020

09/25/2020

05/20/2020–10/17/2020

08/19/2020–10/17/2020

Post-Completion

Fall 2020

01/04/2021

02/17/2021

10/06/2020–03/05/2021

01/05/2021–03/05/2021

How to Apply for OPT

  1. Attend a mandatory a Pre-Completion OPT or Post-Completion OPT workshop to learn more about OPT. Refer to the Employment Workshops page for the schedule. Attendance will be recorded.
  2. Download the OPT Application Packet and prepare all required documents.
  3. Before submitting your request to ISS, you must set up Express Shipping. This is the only I-20 delivery option available at this time. 
  4. Email the completed OPT Request Form and Statement of Understanding to iss@fullerton.edu (Subject: OPT Request - Your CWID). Please do not include other documents in the email. Please allow time for processing. If you did not attend an OPT workshop, ISS will not accept your OPT Request.
  5. Assemble your OPT Packet by signing and dating the documents, attaching your check or money order and envelope of photos. If you want us to review the assembly of your documents, please schedule a virtual appointment with an ISS Advisor.
  6. Mail your OPT Application Packet to USCIS within 3 business days of receiving your packet from the ISS office. USCIS may take as long as 100 days to process and make decisions on OPT applications.

Additional Resources on OPT