Optional Practical Training
Working after your degree
OPT is designed to allow you to look for, accept, and experience work commensurate with your academic background and educational level. If you are unemployed for more than 90 days, you are considered to be out of status.
You do not need to have a job in order to apply for OPT. However, the job you accept must be related to your studies and require a college degree in order to be hired.
Keep in mind that you may only work on OPT for one year or whatever part of one year occurs within 14 months from the end of your program. This means that if it takes you two months to find a position after OPT approval, you will only be able to work for the ten months remaining on your OPT year.
You may apply for and receive a company sponsored H-1B work permit at any point during your OPT year. You may apply for and receive an I-20 for a graduate program at any point during your OPT year. However, you must end your employment before reporting to your new school.
You may apply for OPT up to 90 days before your program end date, and up to 60 days after your program completion. This practice allows you to determine graduate school admission before applying for OPT. Be sure to confirm with your academic advisor that you are on track to complete your studies before you apply for OPT.
Gather the following before your OPT appointment with the International Advisor:
- Two passport pictures, 2 inches by 2 inches, taken within the past six months
- Your passport, I-94 card, and Social Security card
- Your first I-20 issued when you gained F-1 status
- Your most recent I-20, with the OPT request text on page 3
- Any previously issued EAD card
- A personal check, money order or cashier's check made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $380.00
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (Marked (c)(3)(B) in #16)
- A completed Knox College CPT/OPT Request Form
During your OPT year you may take short-term vacations authorized by your employer. For ease of return if you will travel outside the United States, bring an official letter from your employer stating your name, your position, authorization for vacation, and when they expect you to return and resume your employment.
Extension of OPT is only allowed for a select few academic areas. See your DSO for current information on STEM Extension.