OPT (Immigration)

Basic information

  • Owner(s):
  • Applies to:
    • Prospective Students
    • Current Students
  • Approved by:
    • International Admissions
  • Issued: December 1, 2021
  • Last updated: December 1, 2021

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a work authorization that allows international students to work in the U.S. for up to one year after graduating.  

To qualify for OPT, you must have an active SEVIS record for at least two semesters in a row. Almost all graduating students meet this criterion, but if you took time off or a hiatus in the last year, you can check with the immigration coordinator to see if you qualify. 

This calculator can help you plan your OPT dates: https://ivannarodriguez.github.io/opt_timeline/  

An OPT application must reach the USCIS lockbox no more than 90 days before your program end date. Your program end date is not necessarily the end date printed on your most recent I-20. To find your program end date, start by requesting a graduation verification from the Center for Student Success.  

After that you must complete the Calvin forms and send them to the immigration coordinator to get an I-20 with an OPT recommendation. Then send the I-20 with your application packet to USCIS. 

There are two steps: 

Step 1:
Get an I-20 with OPT recommendation. To do this, you must send the following forms to the immigration coordinator: 
 

    Step 2:
    Send the materials listed on the checklist to USCIS.
     

    Be sure to check the USCIS website for the most recent address: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765-addresses  

    All forms of employment must be directly related to your major. The more closely related the better, but as a general rule at least half of what you do on a daily basis should require the knowledge from your degree. You may also: 

    • work for more than one employer   
    • change employers  
    • work for hire (contractual work) 
    • find employment through an agency 
    • be self-employed. If you decide to be self-employed, consulting an attorney is highly recommended. In addition to immigration regulations, you will need to comply with relevant business and taxation laws. 
    • volunteer (cannot violate labor laws) 

    Required documents for reentering the U.S.

    1. I-20 with a travel endorsement on page 2 that is less than 6 months old when you reenter the U.S. It is okay if the I-20 is more than 6 months old; it is only the date of the signature that must be less than 12 months old. If you need a new travel endorsement, e-mail the immigration coordinator, or bring your I-20 to the office during walk-in hours.

    2. Valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after you reenter the U.S.

    3. Valid visa. If your visa will have expired, be sure to give yourself enough time to get a new visa before returning.

       

    REQUIRED REPORTING, NEW I-20: 

    If any of the following changes, you must update the information in the SEVP Portal as soon as possible and then contact the DSO to receive an updated I-20: 

    • Start date of job
    • End date of job
    • City where job is performed
    • Change of legal name

    REQUIRED REPORTING, NO NEW I-20: 

    If any of the following changes, you must update the information in the SEVP Portal as soon as possible. You do NOT need to contact the DSO for these changes, and you will not receive a new I-20 because this information does not appear on your I-20: 

    • Name, e-mail address, or phone number of your supervisor
    • Whether the job is more or less than 20 hours per week
    • The address where you live
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