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:

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:

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  1. Read the F-1 OPT Overview.
  2. Submit your OPT I-20 request form in iPenn.
  3. Within 30 days of receiving your I-20, submit your Application to USCIS
  4. Follow the Reporting Requirements

Eligibility 

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.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • 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.

Types of OPT 

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

Mandatory Online Tutorial before applying for Post-Completion OPT

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.

  1. To activate your account, log into KnowledgeLink with your PennKey: http://knowledgelink.upenn.edu
  2. It will take up to 3 hours for your account to be activated.
  3. Log into KnowledgeLink again at http://knowledgelink.upenn.edu, and search for "Post-Completion OPT".
  4. To complete the online tutorial, you have to complete 100% of the quizzes hidden inside the online module.

SEVP Policy Guidance 

What's Next?

Once you have read through the overview you can complete the F-1 OPT iPenn Request.