Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is for F-1 visa holders only.

OPT is a benefit, not a right. It is an opportunity to gain temporary work experience in a field directly related to your academic major(s) (minors do not apply).

OPT employment must be full-time, which is defined as at least 20 hours per week (this includes volunteering).

During your period of OPT, your immigration status remains that of an F-1 student at The College of Wooster. In order to remain in good standing, you are required to report the following information to ISS within 10 days of any change:

  • Your residential address
  • Your employer’s name and address
  • Any changes in your employment (ending a job, changing jobs)
  • Change in immigration status (H-1B, etc.)
  • If you leave the US and will no longer be using your F-1 OPT

Once you have a permanent address and/or have secured a job or for any of the above changes, fill out this form for ISS.

You may not begin employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and employment is allowed only within the period of authorized dates on the EAD. 

Please note: F-1 students on post-completion OPT may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during the entire 12-month period of OPT. F-1 students in STEM fields who are granted a 24-month extension for OPT may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the 36-month OPT period. Please maintain a record of your job search process throughout your period of OPT.

Eligibility

You are eligible if you:

  • are in “good standing” with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • have been enrolled full time for the previous academic year (*with the exception of pre-approved short course load options).

You are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT per degree level (Bachelors, Masters, PhD).

Please read this OPT Overview (.pdf) for more information about OPT and for the application process.

Individuals who have majored in STEM fields are eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT. STEM classification is based on the specific CIP code of the major - not the emphasis or focus. This extension is applied for in conjunction with their employer. View a complete list of approved STEM majors.

Material on this Web site is general and for informational purposes only. It does not constitute or replace professional legal advice, and you should not rely on it solely when making decisions about your immigration status or reporting requirements.