OPT allows you to work in the United States and earn money in an occupation directly related to your area of study for one year following graduation.
Before you apply:
- Complete at least three consecutive quarters (nine months) of full-time study as an F1 visa student in your certificate program (full-time ESL programs do not count).
- Complete your certificate program before OPT work starts, including all English courses required by the ESLPE results. If you do not complete your program on time, you cannot begin working and you will lose time from OPT.
How to apply:
- You do not need a job offer to apply.
- Apply at the beginning of your last quarter, as early as 90 days before program completion and within 60 days after your last class ends.
- Meet with your International Student Office (ISO) counselor who will help you complete the Employment Authorization/OPT application (Form I-765) and mail it to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service. See below for a list of items to bring to your appointment.
- Maintain your health insurance coverage during OPT employment and while searching for work.
- If your application is approved, you will receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card/Form I-688) from the government within three to four months. You cannot accept or begin employment until you have received your EAD card.
Note: Working without certificate program completion and without an EAD card constitutes illegal employment and could jeopardize your student status.
Items you must bring to your OPT appointment:
- The Program Completion Verification Form signed by your academic department advisor.
- Your passport, I-94 card, and I-20.
- Personal check or money order for $410.00, payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security with your name, date of birth, and I-94 number written on the front of the check or money order.
- Two passport-style photos (size 2”x 2”) taken within the past 30 days.