Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization in the United States allowing eligible F-1 students the opportunity to obtain real-world work experience related to their field of study.
The eligible F-1 student, must request OPT recommendation in their I-20 from a Designated School Official (DSO) before applying for the work permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also known as Form I-766. The student may begin OPT only on the date indicated on the EAD.
You are eligible to apply for standard, post-completion OPT, if you meet the following criteria:
- You are currently in lawful F-1 status and have accrued immigration benefits for one full year since entry into the U.S.
- You have been enrolled in a full course of study or equivalent for at least one academic year.
- You are in good academic standing.
- You have completed, or are in the process of completing your degree required coursework.
- You have not already participated in post-completion OPT at your current degree level or exceeded 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT). One OPT is granted per degree level.
- Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training.
- Work can begin only after receiving the EAD and on or after the start date on the EAD.
- If your application for OPT is still pending contact a CIE Advisor for further advice.
- Work at least 20 hours per week. If work schedule is variable, work an average of 20 hrs. per week within a month.
- Work must be directly related to your major field of study.
- Valid “employment” for OPT includes:
- Single full-time or multiple part-time jobs
- Multiple, short-term jobs
- Work for hire/independent contractor
- Self-employed business owner
- Employment through an agency
- Volunteer/unpaid internships where U.S. Labor Laws permit. See Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act for more details.
- Maintain evidence - for each job - of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for the your supervisor or manager and a description of the work.
- Cannot be unemployed for a total of more than 90 days. If you are unemployed for more than 90 days during your OPT, you will be considered out of status and your status will be terminated. You must leave the U.S., transfer to another institution, change degree levels, or change your immigration status.
International Students completing Post-Completion OPT are required to report the following changes within 10 business days of the change:
- Termination of employment
- Unemployment periods
- Changes to your name
- Changes to your U.S. mailing address and contact information
- Termination of your OPT period
- Change of status or Academic level
You have two options to update your Information while in Post-Completion OPT:
The SEVP Portal will be accessible to you only after OPT is approved. You will receive an email to set up your individual SEVP Portal from email@example.com. Use the SEVP Portal to report the following information only:
- Physical home address
- Mailing address
- Telephone numbers
- Employment information
After you set up your SEVP Portal, you can access it here. For help with the SEVP Portal visit SEVP PORTAL HELP.
Please note: New I-20s are not issued when reporting updates.
You can continue to update your personal information in your CSULB Single Sign-On while on OPT. Preferred email may can be changed by submitting a student request.
Click here for travel information from International Students & Scholars Services.
Report the end of your OPT period at any time by submitting OPT end date information as a student request.
F-1 students who complete their OPT period successfully until the end of their Employment Authorization Card (EAD) have a 60-day grace period. During the grace period, students must prepare to depart the U.S., gain a new F-1 status, or change to another immigration status.
A Transfer Out Request must be submitted to ISS within the grace period if you plan to start a new academic program at a school other than CSULB.
H1-B Cap Gap Extension
Your OPT work authorization will be automatically extended if you are the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1 (the first day of the following fiscal year). To determine your eligibility for the Cap Gap or to request an I-20 with the Cap Gap notations, contact an International Student advisor or click here to view the request form.