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.

If you started at IU in fall 2020 or later, make sure you review the eligibility information on our COVID-19 page.

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 occurrence:

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

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).
  • A branch of the U.S. government (the Student and Exchange Visitor Program or SEVP) has a portal that allows you to update your OPT employer information and address. You will receive an email invitation from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov after you OPT is approved and your start date is in the past. However, you do not need to do anything. Using the portal is optional, and since there is limited functionality, you still need to use Atlas for most of your reporting obligations. Thus, we suggest using only Atlas to manage all your OPT reporting obligations.