Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit available to those in F-1 student status. It is 12 months of work authorization granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to F-1 students for the purpose of gaining practical experience directly related to their program of study. The ISSI first recommends OPT and the student then applies to USCIS for work authorization. Pre-Completion OPT is an option for full-time F-1 students, while Post-Completion OPT takes place after a student’s program completion date (the end of the program of study, not necessarily the date of graduation).
Please choose one of the following for further information:
Information about Post-Completion OPT
What is post-completion Optional Practical Training?
Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit available to those in F-1 student status. It is 12 months of work authorization granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to F-1 students for the purpose of gaining practical experience directly related to their program of study. The ISSI first recommends OPT and the student then applies to USCIS for work authorization. Post-Completion OPT takes place after the program completion date (the end of the program of study, not necessarily the date of graduation).
When should a F-1 student apply for post-completion OPT?
Students can file for post-completion OPT work authorization no earlier than 90 days prior to their program completion date. For immigration purposes, program completion dates are typically the last day of class or exams; not the date of degree conferral. Students may also file their post-completion OPT applications no later than 60 days after the program completion date (i.e. During the 60 day grace period). In this case, it is highly recommended that students file paperwork with the ISSI no later than one (1) month before the end of their 60 day grace period.
*USCIS MUST receive your application for post-completion within 30 days of the post-completion OPT recommendation. If USCIS does not receive a student’s application within the 30 day timeframe, post OPT will be denied.
Who is eligible to apply for post-completion OPT?
A student may apply for post-completion OPT only if all of the following criteria have been met:
He/she has maintained valid F-1 student status
He/she has studied fulltime for at least 1 academic year
He/she has completed fewer than 365 days of fulltime curricular practical training
Note: Students can apply for 12 months of post-completion OPT upon completion of each higher degree level. Only one post-completion OPT application is allowed per academic degree level (ie. Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD)
If you are interested in post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), please first review Information about Post-OPT (or refer to ISSI Form 202 for information on Post-OPT).
Important Update! The ISSI now accepts applications for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (Post-OPT) online via a paperless system called myISSI, which you can log into with your myNEU username and password. This system will enable you to submit all of your documents to the ISSI in a more effective manner.
In order to submit your documents to the ISSI to request an I-20 with Post-OPT Recommendation, please do the following:
-Complete and scan ISSI Form 133 (signed by you and your advisor)
-Pay $200 Post-Graduation Administrative Fee (click here for instructions) and make a screenshot of your receipt
-Scan copies of your passport, I-94 card, and any previous EAD cards (if applicable)
-Complete online Post-Completion OPT Application e-form that includes the following:
-Information about Post-OPT
-Brief quiz to ensure understanding of Post-OPT
-Prompt to request Post-OPT dates
-Prompt to upload ISSI Form 133, Post-Graduation Administrative Fee receipt, Passport, I-94, and any previous EAD cards
After submitting a completed e-form through myISSI, an ISSI Advisor will review your request within 10 business days. Assuming that your request is complete and you are eligible for Post-OPT, you will receive an email when your new I-20 with OPT recommendation is ready for pick-up or mailing. This email will also include instructions on how to submit your documents to USCIS.
For all OPT applications submitted to the ISSI, a post-graduation administrative fee of $200 will be required as part of the OPT application packet. Payment of this fee must be made through your myNEU account. Please refer to the instructions below on how to make your payment. Please be aware that this is separate from the filing fee that is submitted along with the I-765 Application Form to USCIS.
1. Log into your myNEU account, and select the NUPay link by clicking on the red wagon
2. Select the Make Payment link on the blue menu bar.
3. Select the ISSI OPT Fee link on the page to be able to add it to the NUPay Basket
4. You will next see a description of the ISSI OPT Fee. Click on Add to NUPay Basket to continue
5. You will then be taken to your online shopping cart. Press the Checkout button on the right and you will be prompted to enter information from a credit card, debit card or an electronic check. Once you have completed the transaction you will receive a confirmation of payment email in your NU email account. Please keep this email for your records.
Information about Pre-Completion OPT
If you are interested in pre-Completion OPT, then please reference the "Pre-Completion OPT" documents on the Forms section of our website.
What is the STEM OPT Extension?
F-1 students with Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) may be eligible for an extension of their Post-Completion OPT work authorization. On March 11, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published new expanded regulations which take effect on May 10, 2016.
The DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List is organized based on CIP Codes. F-1 Students can find their current program CIP code in the Program Information section on page 1 of the Form I-20.
Major Differences between 17 and 24 month STEM OPT Regulations
STEM OPT extension may now be as long as 24 months after initial post-completion OPT period
Students may be eligible for up to two STEM OPT extensions based on two STEM degrees at different degree levels in a student’s lifetime (instead of just one)
Students now have the ability to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on a previously earned STEM degree from an accredited U.S. institution within 10 years under which the student has not previously applied for STEM OPT Extension.
Volunteering and self-employment are not permitted during the STEM OPT extension
Students are permitted an additional 60 days of unemployment (previous rule allowed an additional 30 days) under the STEM OPT period in addition to the current 90 days of unemployment allowed under the initial 12 month post-completion OPT period; up to 150 days of total unemployment
Transitioning to the new STEM OPT Rule
There are many details about the new STEM OPT regulations that need further clarification. It will take some time for DHS (including SEVIS and USCIS Service Centers), employers and universities to define the application procedures and reporting requirements of STEM OPT. ISSI will continue to update our STEM OPT materials here and keep students informed.
The issuance of the final rule provides different scenarios for eligibility and application timelines for students who are applying for their initial period of STEM OPT extension and those on 17-month STEM extension wishing to apply for an additional 7-month STEM OPT extension (to the maximum of 24-months under the new rule).
Eligibility Scenarios for STEM OPT
Currently authorized for 12-month post-completion of degree OPT, planning to apply for STEM OPT extension
Applications filed prior to May 10, 2016
STEM OPT Extension applications approved before May 10 will be adjudicated under the current 17-month rule. If this happens, you would be eligible to convert to the 24-month STEM OPT extension if you file an application for the additional 7 months between May 10 and August 8, 2016. Please see # 2 below.
If the 17-month STEM OPT application is pending review at USCIS on May 10, 2016, USCIS will send student a Request for Evidence (RFE) to update their I-20 to the 24-month STEM OPT benefit. At that time, a completed Form I-983 will be required. We recommend that you begin conversations with your employer about the I-983 now so that you have one prepared when USCIS requests it.
Applications filed on or after May 10, 2016
Students applying for STEM OPT extension on or after May 10 will be applying under the new 24-month extension final rule. Anyone considering a STEM OPT extension after the new regulation is in effect will be required to complete the Form I-938 with their employer. We recommend that you begin conversations now with your employer about the I-983 so that you have one prepared when you need to file the application. For more information, DHS has launched the STEM OPT Hub
Currently on STEM OPT extension, seeking clarification about eligibility for 7-month additional STEM OPT extension (to maximum 24 month)
Students who are currently on an authorized period of 17-month STEM OPT may be eligible to apply for the additional 7-months of STEM OPT to increase their employment authorization period to 24 months.
To qualify for the additional 7-month extension from 17 to 24 months of STEM OPT, individuals must meet the following eligibility requirements:
Apply for and have application received by USCIS between May 10, 2016 and August 8, 2016
Have at least 150 days remaining on before the end of the 17-month OPT period at the time the I-765 form is filed and received. (Students who have 17-month STEM OPT EADs that expire before October 7, 2016 are not eligible to apply for this extension.)
Meet all the requirements of the 24-month STEM OPT extension
Must file within 60 days of the DSO signature on the newly updated 24-month STEM OPT I-20 with recommendation.
To check your eligibility and application deadline, download the following chart
Anyone considering a STEM OPT extension after the new regulation is in effect will be required to complete the Form I-983 with their employer. We recommend that you begin conversations now with your employer about the I-983 so that you have one prepared when you need to file the application.
For more information, see:
STEM OPT Hub - Students with Existing 17-Month STEM OPT EADs