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F-1 Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is one type of work permission available to eligible F-1 students. It allows students to enhance their academic experience in the U.S. by engaging in job training that is directly related to their field of study. It is important for students interested in OPT to understand the eligibility requirements, application process, and reporting requirements of the program in order to take full advantage of the benefit and properly maintain status.

The basics Heading link

Applying for OPT Heading link

Applying for post-completion OPT involves you, OIS, and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) in addition to others. The process can take anywhere from three to five months and the ultimate goal is to have USCIS issue you an employment authorization document (EAD) valid for work in the U.S. which you can then use for training in a job directly related to your field of study.

While you wait for your EAD Heading link

It can take two to five months for USCIS to process your OPT application and issue your employment authorization document (EAD). During this time you remain in F-1 status but your eligibility to study, work, and travel internationally may change depending on where you are in the processing timeline.

Maintaining status while on OPT Heading link

You continue in F-1 status sponsored by UIC throughout the 12 months of post-completion OPT. While many of the basics of maintaining your F-1 status will remain the same, there are a few additional requirements to keep in mind.

When OPT ends Heading link

There are a few options to consider when you near the end of your 12-month period of post-completion OPT.