Optional Practical Training is employment authorization for off-campus work that is directly related to your major field of study. You may use OPT for unpaid or paid work experience. There are three types of OPT:
- Pre-completion: Start and finish before your program end date.
- Post-completion: Start and finish after your program end date.
- 24-month STEM extension: Certain circumstances allow you to apply to extend OPT for an additional 24 months.
- Be in lawful F-1 status for one full academic year prior to applying for OPT.
- Have a passport that is valid for at least six months into the future.
- Have no more than 364 days (less than one year) of full-time CPT.
Step 1: Attend workshop and prepare documents
Attend a mandatory OPT workshop (sign up for a workshop in advance through MU Connect). Then gather the necessary documents, which can be uploaded through myStatus or submitted in hard copy to International Student and Scholar Services:
- Completed Form I-765 — most students should use eligibility category (c)(3)(B) for post-completion OPT
- Copy of I-94 record
- Copy of passport biographical page
- Copy of visa
- Copies of all previous I-20s
- Copy of any previous Employment Authorization Documents you have received from USCIS (if applicable)
OPT application timeline
|Term||First day to accept application||Graduation date (I-20 end date)||Last day of grace period|
|Spring 2020||Feb. 15, 2020||May 15, 2020||July 14, 2020|
|Summer 2020||May 2, 2020||July 31, 2020||Sept. 29, 2020|
|Fall 2020||Sept. 19, 2020||Dec. 18, 2020||Feb. 16, 2021|
|Spring 2021||Feb. 13, 2021||May 14, 2021||July 13, 2021|
Step 2: Submit application to International Student and Scholar Services
After gathering the necessary documents, submit an online OPT request and upload your documents or bring them to International Student and Scholar Services (do not staple them). You will also provide the following as part of your OPT request:
- OPT workshop review (review the workshop slides)
- OPT adviser verification
- OPT processing fee — payable by cash (exact change only), check or money order (payable to “MU International Center”)
- $75 for initial OPT applications
- $150 for OPT STEM extension applications
Do not submit your U.S. Department of Homeland Security check or photos to International Student and Scholar Services.
After you submit your application, all required documents and pay the OPT processing fee, an international student adviser will process your application within five business days. When your documents have been signed, you will receive an email that they are ready for you to pick up.
Step 3: Mail application to USCIS
Once you have receive your documents back from International Student and Scholar Services, you should gather all necessary items and submit your entire application to USCIS in the pre-paid envelope we provide.
Step 4: Monitor your EAD progress
Approximately two weeks after you mail your OPT application, you will receive a receipt from USCIS confirming that they have received your documents. The receipt will have a YSC number that you may use to track the status of your application online.
Step 5: Receive your EAD card
USCIS will make a decision on your application within 120 days. If approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document in the mail. You may begin working when you have the EAD card and the employment start date on it has arrived.