Optional Practical Training


The DSO must recommend Optional Practical Training (OPT) for students in accordance with the 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii). The student must then apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employment authorization using a Form I-765. See the here for information and to download the form.

For assistance the DSO should consult the SEVIS Users Manual for SEVIS process or the Help Desk at 1-800-892-4829. For unresolved policy issues, send an email to SEVIS.Source@dhs.gov or contact SEVP at (703) 603-3400.

214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A) (ii) Optional practical training

(A) General. A student may apply to the Service for authorization for temporary employment for optional practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study. The student may not begin optional practical training until the date indicated on his or her employment authorization document, Form I–766 or Form 688B. A student may submit an application for authorization to engage in optional practical training up to 90 days prior to being enrolled for one full academic year, provided that the period of employment will not begin until after the completion of the full academic year as indicated by the DSO. A student may be granted authorization to engage in temporary employment for optional practical training:

(1) During the student’s annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session, if the student is currently enrolled, and is eligible for registration and intends to register for the next term or session;

(2) While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session; or

(3) After completion of the course of study, or, for a student in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent). Continued enrollment, for the school’s administrative purposes, after all requirements for the degree have been met does not preclude eligibility for optional practical training. However, optional practical training must be requested prior to the completion of all course requirements for the degree or prior to the completion of the course of study. A student must complete all practical training within a 14-month period following the completion of study.

(B) Termination of practical training. Authorization to engage in optional practical training employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.

(C) Request for authorization for practical training. A request for authorization to accept practical training must be made to the designated school official (DSO) of the school the student is authorized to attend on Form I–538, accompanied by his or her current Form I–20 ID.

(D) Action of the DSO-Non SEVIS schools. No longer applies

(E) SEVIS process. In making a recommendation for optional practical training under SEVIS, the DSO will update the student’s record in SEVIS as having been recommended for optional practical training. A DSO who recommends a student for optional practical training is responsible for maintaining the record of the student for the duration of the time that training is authorized. The DSO will indicate in SEVIS whether the employment is to be full-time or part-time, and note in SEVIS the start and end date of employment. The DSO will then print the employment page of the student’s SEVIS Form I–20, and sign and date the form to indicate that optional practical training has been recommended. The student must file with the service center for an Employment Authorization Document, on Form I– 765, with fee and the SEVIS Form I–20 employment page indicating that optional practical training has been recommended by the DSO.

(11) Employment authorization. The total periods of authorization for optional practical training under paragraph (f)(10) of this section shall not exceed a maximum of twelve months. Part-time practical training, 20 hours per week or less, shall be deducted from the available practical training at one-half the full-time rate. As required by the regulations at 8 CFR part 274a, an F–1 student seeking practical training (excluding curricular practical training) under paragraph (f)(10) of this section may not accept employment until he or she has been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by the Service. An F–1 student must apply to the INS for the EAD by filing the Form 1–765. The application for employment authorization must include the following documents:

(i) A completed Form I–765, with the fee required by § 103.7(b)(1); and
(ii) A DSO’s recommendation for optional practical training on an updated SEVIS Form I–20.

(12) Decision on application for employment authorization. The Service shall adjudicate the Form I–765 and issue an EAD on the basis of the DSO’s recommendation unless the student is found otherwise ineligible. The Service shall notify the applicant of the decision and, if the application is denied, of the reason or reasons for the denial. The applicant may not appeal the decision. An F–1 student authorized by the Service to engage in practical training is required to report any change of name or address, or interruption of such employment to the DSO for the duration of the authorized training. A DSO who recommends a student for optional practical training is responsible for updating the student’s record to reflect these reported changes for the duration of the time that training is authorized.

(13) Temporary absence from the United States of F–1 student granted employment authorization.

(i) A student returning from a temporary trip abroad with an unexpired off-campus employment authorization on his or her I–20 ID may resume employment only if the student is readmitted to attend the same school which granted the employment authorization.
(ii) An F–1 student who has an unexpired EAD issued for post-completion practical training and who is otherwise admissible may return to the United States to resume employment after a period of temporary absence. The EAD must be used in combination with an I– 20 ID endorsed for reentry by the DSO within the last six months.

(14) Effect of strike or other labor dispute. Any employment authorization, whether or not part of an academic program, is automatically suspended upon certification by the Secretary of Labor or the Secretary’s designee to the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or the Commissioner’s designee, that a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage of workers is in progress in the occupation at the place of employment. As used in this paragraph, ‘‘place of employment’’ means the facility or facilities where a labor dispute exists. The employer is prohibited from transferring F–1 students working at other facilities to the facility where the work stoppage is occurring.