Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to gain experience in your field of study prior to or after graduation. You are eligible for 12 months of OPT for each higher education level that you finish. While on OPT, you are still an F-1 student and Indiana University Southeast is responsible for updating your SEVIS record. Students authorized for OPT remain in F-1 status, and are required to report any changes in address, interruptions in employment or the stoppage of OPT before the expiration of the authorization.
If you apply for OPT, be sure to read our advice if you wish to travel outside of the US.
- OPT applications can be submitted up to 90 days before your expected program completion date
- Applications must be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after the completion of the academic program requirements.
NOTE: Keep in mind that filing later will NOT give additional OPT time. Expect that USCIS will need 3-4 months to process an OPT application. F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of OPT, and those 12 months must be taken within the 14 months following the completion of program requirements. If it will take 3-4 months for USCIS to process a request for OPT authorization and if the application is filed one month after completing the program of study, the OPT authorization will likely not be processed for three months from the date that USCIS receives it, which will result in the loss of approximately two months of OPT. For that reason, it is recommended that OPT applications be submitted as close to completion of studies as possible.
- The application must be received by USCIS no later than 30 days after the OPT I-20 is printed.
- Processing times for OPT applications can be found on the USCIS website. In general, expect that the OPT application will take three months to be approved.
- At the end of the OPT authorization, an F-1 student has a 60 day "grace period" to remain in the US and prepare for departure, to begin a new program of study or to submit an application for a change of status.
Checklist for OPT Applications
- Practical Training Information Sheet
- OPT Advisor Verification Form
- Form I-765, completed and signed (see tips for completing this form)
- Two, color, passport-style photographs
- All original I-20s
- Copy of the name page and photo of your passport
- Copy of any previous Employment Authorization Documents (front and back)
- Copy of I-94 card (front and back)
- Check or money order made payable to the Department of Homeland Security (See USCIS website for current filing fees)
Form I-765 Tips
- Item #3: We advise that you use our address:
Admissions, 4201 Grant Line Road, US 102. (All on the first line.)
New Albany, Indiana 47150
- Item #9: Use your U.S. Social Security Number if you have one.
- Item #10: Use the 11-digit number on your most recent I-94 card.
- Item #11: This only includes employment for which you received a card directly from immigration. This does not include CPT or on-campus employment.
- Item #14: CIS wants to know what your status was the last time you entered the US.
- Item #15: You must use "F-1 Student."