What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training is defined as authorization for “temporary employment authorization directly related to the field of study.” OPT employment authorization is granted for 12 months typically after completion of degree requirements.
Who is Eligible?
Students who are maintaining current F-1 visa status and continue maintaining F-1 visa status; and
- Students who have been enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year before OPT application; and
- Who will be completing degree requirements within 90 days; and
- Employment is not required to apply, but proposed OPT employment must be directly related to the course of study.
NOTE: If you plan to spend one or more semesters outside the U.S. before your OPT application, then please
consult with an advisor for OPT eligibility.
When to apply for OPT?
- A student can apply for OPT up to 90 days before the program end date and up to 60 days after the program end date.
- Though it is possible to file the I-765 form (OPT) after graduation, the IC does not recommend doing so as the USCIS processing times vary and you may lose some of your 12-month employment authorization.
When does OPT start?
Students have a choice of when they want the OPT to start. The earliest a student can start employment is the day after completing degree requirements. The latest date OPT can start is 60 days after the degree completion date.
Employment Requirements to Maintain Status While on OPT:
- During post-completion OPT; maintaining F-1 visa status is dependent upon employment. Students must not accrue a total of 90 days or more of unemployment during post-completion OPT. The 90 days of unemployment begins accruing on the start date of the Employment Authorization Document/card (EAD). For more details, please consult an IC advisor.
- Employment MUST be related to the field of study and students must work a minimum of 20 hours a week in the student’s field of study.
- Students must upload the employer information in iService within the first 90 days of the EAD start date.
- The employment does NOT have to be paid employment.
- Employment authorization will begin on the date listed on the employment authorization document.
- Reporting Requirements While on OPT:
All students on OPT are required to report the following to the IC:
- Students must upload the employer information in iService within the first 90 days of the EAD start date. If there is ever a change or interruption in your employment status, you must notify IC immediately.
- You must submit a photocopy of your Employment Authorization Document/card (EAD) to IC.
- While on OPT, you must continue to update the IC with your residential address. Your address must describe where you live. It cannot be a P.O. Box or an office address. Please submit this information in SIS within 10 days of any changes.
Grace Period Following OPT
Students who successfully complete OPT will receive a 60 day grace period starting on the day after OPT expires. Before the 60 day grace period is over, you must have either departed the U.S., applied to change your visa status from F-1 to another status, or have received a new I-20 to pursue a new academic program.
NOTE: Only those who complete OPT and do not exceed the 90 day unemployment limit receive the 60 day grace
period. Those who exceed the 90 day unemployment limit during OPT receive no grace period and are considered out of F-1 status.
For Your Information
- You must have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in your possession and the start date must have arrived in order to begin employment.
- The EAD will be mailed to the address that you put on the I-765 form. The Post Office will NOT forward mail from USCIS if you change your address after you apply, unless you change your address by logging in to your USCIS account with your I-797 Receipt Number and change your address. USCIS will NOT mail your EAD to a P.O. Box or international address.
- USCIS will request more information or will issue an EAD approximately 90 days after receipt of your application, unless you are found ineligible.
- If you change your status prior to the OPT expiration date, please inform the IC and send a copy of your change of status approval to the office.
Reminders During OPT
- If you plan on changing your status, we recommend that you begin this process before your OPT expires.
- If you are transferring to another institution, make sure to contact the IC, so that your SEVIS record may be electronically transferred BEFORE the end of your authorized stay.
- Continue to check your UM-Flint email inbox while on OPT as important information may be emailed to your student account on while you are on OPT.