Optional Practical Training, or OPT, is an employment benefit offered through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that enables international students with F-1 status to gain 12 months of off-campus work experience in their field of study.

Graduating F-1 students eligible and interested in applying for Post-OPT work authorization are encouraged to apply early. The earliest the International Students and Scholars Center will accept applications is Jan. 30, 2024.

Program completion dates

To allow for both the ISSC and USCIS processing times, you may submit your OPT I-20 eForm request to ISSC up to 97 days prior to your program completion date.

  • The program completion date for undergraduate students is, in most cases, the date of graduation. The spring 2024 degree conferral date is May 6, 2024.
  • The program completion date for graduate students depends on your final academic requirements. Completion includes dissertation approval after defense, receipt of comprehensive exam results or project defense. You may need to consult with your academic advisor to determine your program completion date.

Note: You do not have to have a job in order to apply for OPT.




Be advised, USCIS processing times generally increase with applications submitted later in the semester. Is it not uncommon for applications to take an average of 90 days to be processed. Therefore, we recommend you apply early in the application season.

USCIS can receive applications up to 90 days before your program end date, which means ISSC can produce OPT-recommended I-20s as early as February 6, 2024. I-20s are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note: Students cannot receive an OPT authorization end date more than 12 months from the end of their 60-day grace period. This means for students who apply later, their OPT may be authorized for a period of less than 12 months. Applying early in the application window increases your chances of obtaining your authorization by your requested start date and receiving OPT for the entire 12-month period.

Lastly, the ISSC will be hosting various webinars this semester regarding OPT and other F-1 immigration topics. See our events webpage to register.


Have questions? Contact the ISSC.

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