Optional Practical Training

Am I eligible for Optional Practical Training authorization?

All F-1 students who are about to graduate and have been enrolled on the same SEVIS record full time for at least two consecutive semesters (excluding summer terms) are eligible to apply for OPT authorization.

As an F-1 student, you are eligible for 12 months of OPT, and those 12 months must be taken within the 14 months following the completion of program requirements.

What do I need to do to maintain status while on OPT?

  • You may not begin practical training until you receive the OPT card (Employment Authorization Document or EAD card) and may only work during the dates listed on the card (unless your employer has filed an H-1B petition).
  • After the program end date on your OPT I-20, you may not work anywhere (on or off campus) until you have received your OPT card and the start date on your card is current—even if you were previously authorized to work on campus. At that time, you can resume working on campus only if the work is in your field of study.
  • You are required to work at least 21 hours per week. There is no maximum number of hours you can work.

As an F-1 student authorized for OPT, you are required to report any of the following to OIS within 10 days of the occurence:

  • Name or address change. Report changes through iStart.
  • Immigration status change. Submit the “No Longer on OPT” e-form in iStart.
  • Interruption of employment or periods of unemployment. Submit the “Report OPT Unemployment” e-form in iStart.
  • New employer (even if you are just adding a new employer). Submit the “Update OPT Employer Information” e-form in iStart.

Note: OIS has been informed that SEVP will automatically terminate SEVIS records for students on OPT who have 90 days of unemployment or who have failed to report employment. Termination of your SEVIS record also ends your OPT authorization.

Learn more about the loss of F-1 status

Other important OPT information

  • You are permitted to engage in more than one practical training opportunity if you wish, as long as all opportunities are in your major field of study.
  • You may accept volunteer opportunities in your field of study (as long as you are not on the OPT STEM extension; if you are, you are not able to accept volunteer opportunities).

Note: It is important to continue to check your IU email account while on OPT. OIS will continue to email you at your IU email address during your OPT authorization.