Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined as: “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)(ii)
OPT may be authorized to an F-1 student who has lawfully enrolled in an academic program on a full-time basis for one full academic year. The student may apply for OPT employment authorization for work that is directly related to his or her area of study. It is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience complementary to the student’s academic program. English language training students are not eligible for OPT
There are three types of OPT available to eligible F-1 students:
- Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training
- Post-Completion Optional Practical Training
- 24-month STEM OPT Extension
Although an employment offer is not required to apply for standard OPT, it is expected that a student work during his or her period of employment authorization. Students applying for a 24-month STEM extension are required to have an offer of employment with an E-verify registered employer. Students on Post-Completion OPT may only accumulate a total of 90 days of unemployment.
For more information on each type of OPT, please see below: