F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) Overview
OPT is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience in the U.S., complementary to the academic program. Please note:
- Certain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree holders may be eligible for an additional 17 month extension of OPT time. For more information review the F-1 Optional Practical Training STEM Extension.
- Duration of status and work authorization may also be extended with an OPT H-1B Cap-Gap Extension.
New USCIS Development: The OPT application must be received by the USCIS within 30 days of the date on which ISSS issues the OPT I-20. If filed with USCIS after 30 days of the OPT I-20 issuance date, your application will be denied.
To begin the OPT process follow the instructions below:
- Read the F-1 OPT Overview.
- Submit your OPT I-20 request form in iPenn.
- Within 30 days of receiving your I-20, submit your Application to USCIS
- Follow the Reporting Requirements
To be eligible for Optional Practical Training, you must:
- have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year;
- currently be maintaining a full-time program of study and valid F-1 status; and
- work in a job directly related to your major field of study.
- You do not need a job offer prior to applying for OPT.
- During post-completion OPT there is a 90-day limitation on unemployment; therefore, F-1 Status dependent upon employment.
- Please note that ELP Students are not eligible for OPT.
- If you are uncertain whether you meet the eligibility requirements, please meet with an ISSS advisor.
OPT is available in the following cases:
1) Pre-Completion OPT
- part-time or full-time during the student's annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session, if the student intends to register for the following semester
- part-time while school is in session
- part-time or full-time after completion of graduate course work requirements excluding a thesis or dissertation
2) Post-Completion OPT
- full-time after completion of the course of study
ISSS recommends that you complete the mandatory online tutorial at least 3-4 months before your program completion. The tutorial must be completed before requesting your OPT I-20 from ISSS.
- To activate your account, log into KnowledgeLink with your PennKey: http://knowledgelink.upenn.edu
- It will take up to 3 hours for your account to be activated.
- Log into KnowledgeLink again at http://knowledgelink.upenn.edu, and search for "Post-Completion OPT".
- To complete the online tutorial, you have to complete 100% of the quizzes hidden inside the online module.
- Please read the SEVP: OPT Policy Guidance provided by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Once you have read through the overview you can complete the F-1 OPT iPenn Request.