Optional Practical Training

Introduction to Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students interested in OPT must complete the new "Optional Practical Training for F-1 Students" Canvas course prior to scheduling an OPT appointment. This self-paced course will provide you with all the necessary information to file for OPT, and understand your responsibilites while on approved OPT. 

Request access to this OPT Canvas Course HERE!

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).


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 considered full-time with the government. Whether you work 15 or 40 hours per week, it will count as full-time and counts towards your 12 months of available OPT.

  • You can apply for OPT as early as 90 days before the end of your program
  • You can apply for OPT as late as the end of your 60-day grace period (i.e. 60 days after your I-20 end date) - though we recommend applying as early as possible
  • Following are the earliest days you can set up your OPT appointment for:
Last QuarterEarliest OPT Appointment
Fall 2021 September 16,2021
Winter 2022 December 23,2021
Spring 2021  March 17, 2022

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?
Training StageDetails
Post-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.
Pre-Completion Training 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

Review the OPT Application Process for a step-by-step guide on how to apply for your OPT through the ISC. 

After your application is sent, you will be sent a receipt notice in about 3-6 weeks. Once you have received your receipt notice, you will be able to check the status of your individual application at https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do with your receipt number.

Your application should be adjudicated and your Employment Authorization Document should be issued in 3-4 months after your receipt arrives. 

After you find a job, be sure to 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:

STEM OPT Extension Application Process

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 following the OPT Application Process. You can schedule an appointment with your advisor if you would like assistance applying for your STEM extension. 

STEM Extension Validation Reporting

During the STEM OPT Extension period, students must make a 6, 12, and 18 month validation report that confirms the student's name, address, employer, and employment status are correct. Students can validate this using their access to their SEVP portal, or they can contact their immigration advisor to confirm this validation report for them.

STEM Extension Self-Evaluations

Students must report the progress they have made toward the training goals outlined on the Form I-983 (Training Plan) that was originally submitted to the ISC. The student should create the self evaluation, have their supervisor confirm and sign each self-evaluation, then submit the self-evaluation page to the ISC.

  • First assessment should be submitted within the first 12 months of STEM OPT start date
  • Final assessment should be submitted no later than 10 days after their employment end date

If the student changes employers, they should still submit their final assessment within 10 days of the end of their employment with the current employer. Then, they will need to fill out a new I-983 (Training Plan) with their new employer and submit it to the ISC.

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 Up to 90 days 90 days
24-month STEM 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.


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.
  • You have already done OPT at the same degree level
  • You have used 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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.