Optional Practical Training


Optional Practical Training, or OPT, is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience in the U.S., complementary to the academic program. Please note:

The OPT application must be received by USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) within 30 days of the date that 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.

View a Recording of a Recent ISSS OPT Webinar


To begin the OPT process, follow the instructions below:

    The OPT Process
    Read the F-1 OPT Overview

    The overview consists of:

    • Eligibility

    • Types of OPT

    • Mandatory Online Tutorial for Post-Completion OPT

    • SEVP Policy Guidance

    Skip to overview

    Submit your OPT I-20 request form in iPenn.
    Submit Application to USCIS

    Within 30 days of receiving your I-20, submit your Application to USCIS. Learn more about this application.

    Follow the Reporting Requirements


    F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) Overview

    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 is 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 access the tutorial:

    1. Log into iPenn

    2. Open the OPT I-20 Request eform

    3. Select "Yes" for "Post-Completion OPT"

    4. Click "Begin Tutorial"

    5. 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 receive your OPT EAD card, OPT reporting should be done by submitting the "OPT Reporting" e-form in iPenn. For more information on OPT Reporting requirements, please see the F-1 OPT Reporting requirements page.