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Standard 12-Month OPT

F-1 Student Status allows up to one full-year (12 months) of off-campus employment authorization to gain practical experience related to your major field of study. This year of U.S. work permission is called Optional Practical Training (“OPT”).

OPT Authorization:
  • Allows for paid and unpaid experiences
  • Must be used for training related to your major field and appropriate to your level of education
  • Allows multiple employers and self-employment within authorized dates.

OPT is a benefit granted by USCIS, not in-house by the Immigration Services Office. Applications cost $410.00 and can take up to 90 days to process.

You cannot begin work until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (informally known as the “OPT Card”). Working before you receive your EAD is considered a violation of F-1 Status that results in a negative termination of your SEVIS Record which will likely preclude you from obtaining work-based Immigration Status in the future.

The general rule of thumb for applying for OPT is “the sooner, the better.” The sooner you apply for OPT, the more likely you are to receive the dates you request for your work authorization.

Standard OPT

  • Pre-Completion - Any time after you have completed an academic year of full-time study and no sooner than 90 days prior to the Start Date listed on your OPT Recommendation I-20. If you are eligible, then you will need to submit an online Request for Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training so that we can issue you a new I-20.
  • Post-Completion - As soon as 90 days prior to the Program Completion Date listed on your I-20, but no later than 60 days after the Program Completion Date listed on your I-20. If you are eligible, then you will need to submit an online Request for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training so that we can issue you a new I-20.  

F-1 Students you are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT authorization per academic level.

You may be eligible to apply for Standard OPT if:

- Are maintaining valid F-1 Status;
- You have been lawfully enrolled as a Full-Time college/university student for at least one full academic year (two full semesters)
- You are in good academic standing at MCPHS

You may NOT qualify to apply for Standard 12-Month OPT if:

- All or part of your last academic year was spent in an English-language training program, including MCPHS’ Pathway Program
- You were previously authorized for 12 months of more of Full-Time Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- You have previously received OPT authorization for the same or higher educational level
- If you are on a leave of absence or suspension from MCPHS
- You have violated or ended your F-1 Status in the past academic year and have regained your F-1 Status by traveling and re-entering with a new Initial Attendance I-20

Keep in mind that the Immigration Services Office will review your academic record and your immigration history to evaluate whether we can recommend you for a period of OPT. The final decision on whether to approve your case is made by USCIS.
As an F-1 Student, you may request up to twelve (12) months of Standard OPT, which can be used either before you graduate (“Pre-Completion OPT”) or after you graduate (“Post-Completion OPT”).

You can apply for Pre-Completion OPT once you have been enrolled for one full academic year and while you are still completing your program of study. It is important to note that any Pre-Completion OPT time you use will be deducted from your Post-Completion OPTeligibility.

You cannot apply for Post-Completion OPT until you provide a completed Confirmation of Program Completion form to the Immigration Services Office.
When you apply for Standard 12-Month OPT, you must indicate if you are requesting permission for Part-Time Authorization (20 hours per week or fewer) or Full-Time Authorization (more than 20 hours).

Since F-1 Students must carry a full-time course load, you can only apply for “Part-Time” Pre-Completion OPT during required semesters of study (i.e. Fall and Spring). This means that you can only participate in this program for 20 hours per week of fewer, unless you will perform the work during the Summer semester or a during designated school break. Working any more than for what you are authorized is considered a violation of status which will result in a very negative termination of your SEVIS Record.

On a positive note, however, Part-Time Pre-Completion OPT deducts at a half-time rate, so if you are approved for 4 months of Part-Time Pre-Completion OPT, only 2 months will be deducted from your Post-Completion OPT eligibility.

In summary, you can apply for periods of OPT authorization as follows:

- Part-Time only during required semesters of study
- Part-Time or Full-Time during designated school breaks
- Part-Time or Full-Time if you are a graduate student who has completed all course work and have moved on to the thesis or dissertation stage of your program
- Full-Time only after graduation
1. Fully review the entire Optional Practical Training section of this website and attend an Optional Practical Training Workshop offered by Immigration Services.

2. Read and sign the appropriate OPT Acknowledgment (Pre-Completion if you are applying for OPT before you graduate and Post-Completion if you are apply for OPT after you graduate).

3. For students applying for Pre-Completion OPT or Post-Completion OPT, print your Academic Transcript from WebAdvisor. If needed, you may refer to the Testimonials & Resources section of the Center for Academic Success & Enrichment’s (CASE’s) website for tutorials on using WebAdvisor.

4. Request an OPT Recommendation from Immigration Services. This will include uploading the above documents and other immigration documents. Once the OPT Recommendation I-20 is issued to you, you will be contacted to schedule an OPT Application Assembly appointment.

5. Prepare all required documentation for your Application Assembly Appointment. If you are missing any documentation at your appointment, Immigration Services may not be able to assist you with your application. As such, be sure to contact the Immigration Services regarding any missing documentation before your appointment.

- Completed, original Form G-1145
- Completed, original Form I-765
- Copy of the OPT Recommendation I-20 (which you will receive from the Immigration Services Office at your OPT Appointment)
- Copies of any previously issued EAD’s
- Copy of your I-94 Admission Record
- Copy of your most recent entry stamp
- Copy of the biographical information page(s) in your Passport; and
- Copies of every I-20 ever issued to you (instruction pages omitted)
- I-765 Application Fee (Completed Form G-1450 for a credit card payment; or Personal check or money order in the amount of $410.00 USD and made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”)
- Two 2x2 inch photographs taken in the last 30 days that meet USCIS/DOS photograph specifications. You should write your name and SEVIS ID on the back of each photo

6. Attend your OPT Application Assembly Appointment and send your complete OPT Application to the appropriate Lock Box Facility.
You can check your Case Status Online on USCIS’s official website by referencing the Case Number reflected on your I-797 Receipt Notice.

It can take up to 90 days for USCIS to adjudicate your OPT Application. If your Case Status has not updated 90 days from the Receipt Date reflected on your I-797 Receipt Notice, you may contact the Immigration Services Office for assistance.

Cancelling an OPT Application

If you have not yet sent your OPT Application to a Lock Box Facility, you may request a cancellation or date change on your OPT Recommendation I-20 from the Immigration Services Office.If your OPT Application is not yet approved and you learn that you will not graduate as expected, contact the Immigration Services Office immediately to determine if cancellation of your OPT request is still possible.

Approval of Your OPT Application

Once your OPT Application is approved, USCIS will create and send an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the address you indicated on the Form I-765. Once you receive your EAD, you must provide a copy (either by email or in-person) to the Immigration Services Office so we can update your I-20 if necessary.

Remember: Starting to work or attending employment orientations before receiving the EAD or before the Authorization Start Date listed on the EAD is a serious violation of F-1 Status and will result in a negative termination of your SEVIS Record which will likely preclude you from obtaining work-based Immigration Statuses in the future!