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Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment authorization benefit for F-1 students to gain practical experience in their field of study by working off-campus for a total of twelve months. The 12-month OPT can be obtained while school is in session, after completion of a degree program, and during the summer. An additional 24-month OPT extension can be applied for by students who complete a degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field.

The 12 month Optional Practical Training benefit is available to all F-1 students completing a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree.

  • OPT time requested before the completion of a program of study is referred to as Pre-OPT

  • OPT time requested after the completion of a program of study is referred to as Post-OPT

  • Total time requested between Pre- and Post-OPT cannot exceed the allowed 12-month OPT time benefit

If 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) have been used then a student will not be eligible for Pre- or Post-OPT.

The USCIS processing time is approximately 90 days for all OPT applications. We recommend applying for any OPT at least 104 days prior to your EAD card requested start date. That will allow the ISSC office up to 10 days to processing time and allow USCIS 90 days to process your application.

OPT Information Sessions

OPT information sessions  which discuss eligibility requirements and application processes are available at the Tempe campus.