Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work authorization for F-1 students to gain knowledge in their field of study and use the skills that they have obtained through their studies at the university. OPT can be either pre-completion or post-completion, but most commonly occurs after graduation. Approval of OPT results in an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) giving students permission to work in their field of study during the allotted time of OPT.
Students apply for OPT 90 days before graduation. OPT is often used as a step toward H-1B, but is still F-1 and not a change of status. Internationals who are on OPT must still maintain their SEVIS record by submitting an OPT Update with any change of situation andÂ fulfilling all the requirements of OPT.Â Graduates from STEM fields (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) may be eligible for a STEM Extension of their OPT authorization.