International Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Are You Eligible?

All F-1 students in good standing are eligible for one year of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completion of a degree program.

For more information on OPT and how to apply, please refer to the OPT Application Packet.

Stem OPT
STEM students have the option of obtaining a 24-month extension of your OPT. For more information about the STEM extension and how to apply, please refer to the OPT STEM Extension Application Packet. The I-983 form required for the STEM OPT application, can be found here

A Pre-completion OPT option is available. Please contact ISSS for more information and eligibility requirements. Students must complete at least one academic year before beginning Pre-completion OPT.

Cap-Gap Extension
The H-1B “cap-gap” occurs when an F-1 student’s status and OPT work authorization expires after April 1, and before the student can start approved H-1B employment during the next fiscal year that begins on October 1. For example, under the new rule, a student currently on OPT who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition that requests an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year will have his or her duration of status and OPT employment authorization extended to that date. This is what is called the “cap-gap.”

If you need an I-20 to prove you are in cap-gap status, you should contact IPE.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recommends that you remain in the U.S. during your cap gap extension, as USCIS will consider a change-of-status application to be abandoned if the applicant leaves the country while the application remains pending. You will likely need to apply for an H-1b outside of the U.S. if you leave.