Are you an F-1 student graduating in Fall 2023? If so, now is the time to apply for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is here to help you through this important process.
What is OPT?
OPT is an employment benefit for students with F-1 status to gain practical experience in the U.S. in their major field of study. OPT is granted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
How do I apply?
To successfully apply for OPT, you must first obtain an OPT I-20 from an ISSS advisor and then submit your OPT application to USCIS. The OPT I-20 is a critical part of your application. Without it, your USCIS application will be denied. You can find more details about the application process below.
Where can I find resources on OPT and the application process?
- Check the ISSS post-completion OPT webpage.
- Complete the required OPT modules in myIO or on the ISSS OPT webpage.
- Attend an “Ask an Advisor” session.
Is there a cost associated with OPT?
Timeline to Apply for OPT
Apply early. USCIS can take three months or more to process your OPT application. You may apply for OPT up to 90 days before your graduation date.
When to Request Your OPT I-20
F-1 students graduating in Fall 2023 may request an OPT I-20 through myIO beginning Monday, September 11. Requests will be processed in the order in which they are received. Note that processing takes up to 10 business days (not including weekends or holidays), and the earliest students can receive the OPT I-20 is Monday, September 18.
An OPT I-20 issued prior to September 18 could result in USCIS denying the OPT application.
When to Submit Your OPT Application to USCIS
It’s important to know when USCIS must receive your application. USCIS will not approve OPT applications received before or after the dates indicated below.
For students graduating in December 2023, the earliest date that USCIS can accept your application is Monday, September 18, 2023. The latest date USCIS will accept your OPT application is Wednesday, February 14, 2024, which is the end of the 60-day grace period following graduation. However, if you plan to file online as recommended, it is best to file no later than Tuesday, February 13, 2024, to account for time zone differences.
In addition to meeting the deadlines above, you must also ensure that USCIS receives your OPT application within 30 days of ISSS issuing your OPT I-20 (or 29 days, if filing online).
Note: It is not recommended to travel internationally while your OPT application is pending with USCIS.
How to Apply for OPT
ISSS has broken down the OPT process into a few simple steps.
1. Review the ISSS OPT webpage
2. Request your OPT I-20. Log in to myIO and select > F-1 Practical Training > OPT Request, then do the following:
- Review the OPT modules.
- Pay the OPT administrative fee.
- Complete and submit the OPT request in myIO.
3. Obtain your OPT I-20 from ISSS
4. Submit your OPT application to USCIS. ISSS recommends filing your application online.
Attend Our OPT “Ask an Advisor” Q&A Session
If you have questions after reviewing the ISSS OPT webpage, including the modules listed under “Required OPT Workshop,” join one of our upcoming sessions. An international student advisor will be available to answer your questions about OPT.
Ask an International Student Advisor: F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)