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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

International students who graduate from a U.S. university on an F-1 visa have a special opportunity to work in the US, in their degree field, for 1 to 3 years through Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). To be eligible for OPT, a student must be in legal F-1 status and have been a full-time student for at least one academic year. Students require an OPT I-20 from ISSS as part of their application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


If your employer has any questions about hiring an international student, please share our Guide to Hiring an International Student.

Students with any major are eligible for 12 months of OPT; in addition, students in most science, technology, engineering and math(STEM) fields are eligible for a two-year extension for a total of 36 months. Visit our STEM OPT Extension page to find out more.

Step 1. Review the Guide to Applying for OPT and complete the quiz.  Carefully review this guide and then complete the OPT Quiz with a score of 100%. 

Step 2. Gather documents using our checklist.

Step 3. Request an OPT I-20 through the ISSS Request Form. Please allow for 3-5 business days for ISSS to prepare the OPT I-20. ISSS will email you when it is ready. Students cannot complete Step 4 without the OPT I-20.

Step 4. File I-765 online through the USCIS website. See our instructions below for step-by-step instructions for completing the I-765. USCIS must receive your application within 30 days of the OPT I-20 issuance date and no later than 60 days after the OPT I-20 program end date.

Step 5. Receive receipt notice immediately after submitting your application to USCIS. Despite filing online, students will still receive an additional paper receipt notice in the mail.

Step 6. Receive your EAD card approximately 3-4 month later.

Step 7. Report your employment to ISSS. Report any address or employment changes through the SEVP portal within 10 days of any change. If you need your SEVP portal account reset please contact the ISSS office via:

If you receive any communications from USCIS during this process, share it with ISSS immediately so we can determine if any action must be taken.


International Student and Scholar Services

Rike Center
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469