Optional Practical Training

Introduction to Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students interested in OPT must attend an OPT Workshop, which are offered monthly (Fall through Spring quarters).

What is “practical training?”

Practical training is a temporary work authorization for F-1 students, granted by the United States government, designed to give students an opportunity to gain work experience in their field of study prior to (pre-completion) or after graduation (post-completion).

Eligibility

Students can use OPT to find a job in a field closely related to your major of study, and appropriate to the level of education. You are eligible to apply for OPT if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are currently in F-1 visa status as a full-time student or are in the last quarter of degree completion
  • You have been in the United States and in F-1 visa status for at least one academic year, or will complete one year by the time OPT approval begins
  • You have NOT been authorized for a total of 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility
  • You have NOT previously completed 12 months of OPT at the same education level

Post-completion OPT

Post-completion OPT takes place AFTER you have completed your academic program. This is the most common type of OPT, and is always full-time (20-40 hours per week). 

  • You can apply for OPT as early as 90 days before the end of your program
  • Following are the earliest days you can set up your OPT appointment for:

Last Quarter              

Earliest OPT Appointment

 Fall 2018 September 20, 2018
 Winter 2019 December 27, 2018
 Spring 2019 March 21, 2019

Pre-completion OPT

Students also have the option of doing training part-time while still a full-time student, which is called Pre-completion OPT. If you choose this option, you can work up to 20 hours a week while school is in session, as long as you complete a full-time course load. During your annual vacation quarter and the break between quarters, you can work full-time (20-40 hours per week).

  • Pre-completion training is counted against the 12-month total as follows:
    • 4 months part-time = 2 months full-time
  • Because Pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months of OPT eligibility, most students prefer to save their OPT for after program completion. However, students who may be leaving the US after completing their program or starting a higher level degree immediately after graduation may choose this option
  • Students can apply for Pre-completion OPT as early as 90 days before the preferred start date

When Can I Start Working?

Post-completion training

Pre-completion training

You can request a particular day to start and end your training when you apply. The start date you request can be, at the earliest, the day after you complete all degree requirements, and at the latest, 60 days after. You cannot start working before you receive your EAD, or before the start date on the EAD.

You can request any start date and end date of your training, as long as you maintain your full-time student status during the duration of your training. You cannot start working before you receive your EAD, or before the start date on the EAD.

The OPT Application Process

Although you CAN* apply for OPT on your own (with I-20 authorization by the ISC), we recommend that you apply through the International Student Center (ISC) at Seattle University. To apply with the ISC, you will first need to attend an OPT Workshop, then make an appointment at the ISC and bring in all of the OPT documents. We will take care of the necessary paperwork and make sure your application is complete before we mail it in. 

After the application is sent, you will be sent a receipt notice in 2-4 weeks. Once you have received your receipt notice, you will be able to check the status of your individual application at http://www.uscis.gov with the receipt number.

Your application should be adjudicated and your Employment Authorization Document should be issued in 3-5 months after your receipt arrives. The ISC will be receiving all of your documents and emailing your SU Email to let you know they are ready to be picked up. 

After you find a job, please update your SEVP portal with your employment information. This is important so you do not continue accruing unemployment! Next, inform your advisor or email isc@seattleu.edu with the following information so your advisor can issue you an updated I-20. Please also email your advisor if any of this information changes during your time on OPT.

    • Explain how employment is related to your course of study:
    • Employer Name: 
    • Job Title: 
    • Number of hours per week:
    • Start Date: 
    • End Date (if known):
    • Employer Physical Address: 
    • Supervisor Last Name:
    • Supervisor First Name: 
    • Supervisor Telephone Number OR Email Address: 
    • Current U.S. Physical Address:

*If you decide to apply for OPT on your own, please inform your advisor so they can give you the necessary information on how to apply. We still suggest attending an OPT workshop if you wish to apply on your own.

STEM OPT Extension

Students who have earned degrees in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization if they:

  • Are an F-1 student who received a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List (PDF),
  • Are employed by an employer enrolled in E-Verify, and
  • Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on their STEM degree.

To apply for an extension, you must properly file in addition to all other OPT documents. You can schedule an appointment with your advisor if you would like assistance applying for your STEM extension. These are the additional documents you will need for your application, in addition to all other OPT documents:

  • Form I-765 with the application fee 
  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, endorsed by your DSO 
  • Form I-983 (email your advisor this document at least 24 hours before your appointment)
  • A copy of your STEM degree

Unemployment during the OPT period

The law allows you to be unemployed during your OPT period for a limited number of days.

If you received...

You may be unemployed for...

For a total of...

(during OPT period)

Initial Post-Completion OPT only Up to 90 days 90 days
24-month extension An additional 60 days 150 days


Replacement EAD          

If your EAD is lost, stolen or destroyed, you may request a replacement EAD by filing a new Form I-765 and filing fee (if required), unless a fee waiver is requested and approved.  If you did not receive an EAD that USCIS mailed, you can submit an inquiry on non-delivery of a card.

If your EAD contains incorrect information that is not due to a USCIS error, you must submit:

  • A new Form I-765,
  • The filing fee, if required (or a request for a fee waiver),
  • Any documents specified in the form instructions, and
  • The card containing the error.

If your EAD contains incorrect information because of a USCIS error, we will make the appropriate correction at no additional cost to you. In these cases, you do not need to submit a new Form I-765 or a filing fee. Instead, you must submit:

  • The original card containing the error,
  • A detailed explanation of the card error, and
  • Supporting documentation on the correct information. 

Submit this information to the service center or National Benefit Center that approved your latest Form I-765.

In either case, if we receive your application or request for a replacement EAD and you no longer have any basis for applying for an EAD or employment authorization, we will not return the card and will notify you that you do not have a current basis for applying for an EAD or employment authorization.

Please note, dependents of certain foreign governments, international organizations, and NATO personnel are not required to pay a fee for a replacement EAD.

Note: If you have questions regarding a pending application for an EAD or employment authorization, please see our website for information on when and how to contact USCIS. You can also contact the ISC office to ask any questions you might have about a lost EAD card. 

Cap-gap Extension for F-1 Students with Approved H-1B Petitions

If you are an F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and change of status request, and your F-1 status and employment authorization will expire before the change of status to H-1B occurs (typically October 1), you may be eligible for a cap-gap extension. Go to our USCIS Cap-Gap Extension page for more information.

Ineligibility

You cannot apply for OPT if:

  • You entered the U.S. on an F-1 visa, but did not follow such regulations as completing a full course-load each quarter, or keeping your documents valid.
  • You have worked without permission in the United States.

More information

For more information about the OPT process, please attend an OPT Workshop. Then, if you have any further questions about practical training, contact the International Student Center at (206) 296-6260 or isc@seattleu.edu.  The USCIS website also provides a wide range of information about OPT, EAD, and other immigration questions. 

If you would like assistance with resume writing, interview skills, or other job search strategies, please contact the Career Engagement Office or the Albers Placement Center on campus. 

2018-19 Workshops

Please check your SU email account regularly for announcements on upcoming workshop days and how to RSVP.