Optional Practical Training (OPT) is designed to provide students in F-1 status with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience in the student’s field of study, as listed on the I-20. OPT is different from CPT in the following ways:
- OPT is for students who have graduated from their degree program, except in rare situations. (See International Programs advisor for details)
- A job offer is not needed before applying for OPT.
- USCIS, not International Programs, authorizes the training. You will mail your application to USCIS after receiving materials from International Programs.
- It takes approximately three months to receive authorization.
- Student may work for one or more employers, change jobs, or look for work (up to 90 days) during OPT.
- OPT is limited to 12 months per degree level (exception for some STEM majors); it does NOT mean 12 months after each undergraduate degree or each master’s degree, if you do multiple undergraduate degrees or multiple master’s degrees. (see International Programs advisor for details)
NOTE for EMPLOYERS: no work-visa sponsorship is required for the duration of post-completion OPT and/or STEM OPT authorizations. A student with post-completion OPT or STEM OPT authorizations is still on F-1 student immigration status through the end date of their authorization (unless the student decides to give up their OPT authorization, does not maintain their OPT status, or otherwise changes their status). For employer responsibilities while a student is on STEM OPT, see this official government webpage.
For a detailed explanation and FAQ on employing international students, please see this document.
- Students on post-completion OPT must update their employment information and residential address within 10 days of any change. This reporting is done through the OPT Portal. See the Study in the States website for more details.
For Detailed Information…
- OPT Instructions (PDF)
- Form I-765 (PDF) (Instructions)
- the government form necessary for applying to USCIS for OPT.
For STEM OPT Extension…
…please follow these instructions (24 month STEM extension).
For information on applying for STEM OPT, see the Study in the States website.
Reporting on employment updates while on STEM OPT is done through an iValpo e-form (STEM OPT Reporting), not the SEVP Portal. Students on STEM OPT may still use the Portal for biographical information updates.
OPT Workshop Requirement
- You must attend an OPT workshop put on by International Programs before you apply.
- Notifications for workshop times will be sent out to the student body from International Programs. There are generally three or four workshops each semester.
- Workshop dates and times can also be found here.
- If, due to full-time CPT, you are not on campus during the semester that you need to apply for OPT…
- You may take an online quiz after reading through the OPT information listed above.
- You can find the OPT quiz here.
- Remember, your submission will only be accepted if you are on full-time CPT away from Valparaiso, Ind.
How to Apply
Log on to iValpo using your regular Valpo login information (the blue button under “Full Client Services”) and find the OPT form under the Practical Training tab.
Complete the form, attaching the necessary documents.
Fill in your academic advisor’s name and email. The form will be routed to him/her for approval.
Once your academic advisor approves the e-form, it will be routed to the International Programs advisor. When the International Programs advisor approves the OPT request, you will receive an email notification, and your I-20 will be ready to pick up in the International Programs office the next day, along with a cover letter from International Programs, a CPT printout, and a checklist of materials to send to USCIS.
Send the complete application to USCIS once you have compiled everything on the checklist (follow the instructions on the checklist sheet and in the e-form approval email you received from firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please allow 7 business days from submission of your iValpo e-form to final approval.
Instructions for Correction of EAD
To request an EAD error correction, please return the original EAD containing the error along with supporting documentation (copies of visa, passport, I-94, I-20) and a letter explaining the error to the following address:
Potomac Service Center
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
2200 Potomac Center Drive
Arlington, VA 20598-2425
If the error is confirmed to be a USCIS error, the correction will be made at no additional cost to the applicant and thePSC will issue a corrected EAD within 30 days. However, if the card issued contains incorrect information that is not attributed to USCIS error, the PSC will return the EAD card. In this case, please follow the process detailed atwww.uscis.gov in the Replacement EAD section of the Employment Authorization Document page in order to have the card corrected.