International Students and Scholars Office

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 students in bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programs may apply for Optional Practical Training, or OPT. This is a period of 12 months during which students can gain work experience in their fields of study upon completing a degree or while still completing that degree.

To apply for OPT, please make an appointment to visit with the Immigration & Advising Coordinator - Ross Schupbach (ross.schupbach@uni.edu) at the International Students and Scholars Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is OPT?
    It is a one-year period for F-1 students to work in the US in a field related to their area of studies/major. For example: Computer Science/Management Information Systems graduates should be employed in an information technology area.

  2. How long is OPT?
    A maximum of 12 months, but a 17 month extension is available for students with specific STEM majors listed here:  http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm

  3. When does it start?
    The starting date depends on you, the student. You will need to decide when you will be done with your program in order to determine the starting date. You should discuss this with the Immigration & Advising Coordinator.

  4. Where to apply?
    The International Students and Scholars Office in 113 Maucker Union.

  5. How to Apply?
    To apply, you will need to work with the Immigration & Advising Coordinator. Before scheduling an appointment to meet with the Immigration & Advising Coordinator, please prepare the following items:

  6. How long does the application take?
    Approximately 90 days.

  7. Can I work before approval is granted?
    You cannot start working before your application is approved.

  8. Can I start searching for a job before the approval is granted?
    YES!

  9. Where can I work?
    Anywhere in the US. You must keep the Immigration & Advising Coordinator informed of your residential address whenever it changes.

  10. Can I leave the US for a visit while waiting for approval?
    Yes, but you should discuss the timing of your travel with the Immigration & Advising Coordinator in advance.

  11. What status do I hold with an OPT?
    Your status will remain F-1 while you are authorized for OPT. This means that the usual travel policies apply during your OPT period, and you remain eligible to apply for a new F-1 visa if you travel outside of the U.S. during your OPT time and your current visa has expired.

  12. Can I do more than one OPT? 
    Yes! 12 months of OPT are available per each academic level from baccalaureate through doctoral. Only one year is allowed per each level. You cannot “save” 12 months of OPT from a bachelor’s degree and ask for 24 months following a subsequent master’s degree.

  13. Can I be a full-time student while on OPT?
    NO! You cannot be enrolled as a full-time student while on OPT. Your OPT will be automatically canceled if you transfer to another school or change degree levels. This means that you cannot be a full-time student while working full-time with your OPT. However, you can be a part-time student. Be sure to consult with the Immigration & Advising Coordinator before taking any classes while on OPT.