OPT allows F-1 students to gain off-campus work experience in their field of study prior to or after graduation. Most F-1 students who have been in F-1 student status for at least 9 months or 2 semesters are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT per degree level (F-1 students are entitled to only 12 months for each degree level). While on OPT, an F-1 student visa holder must stay in contact with the Office of International Student Services (OISS) to maintain status.
Authorization for Optional Practical Training is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Applications for OPT may be submitted up to 3 months prior to completion of your studies at IU South Bend and up to 2 months following your program completion date. As the authorization from USCIS may take 3 or more months, it is important to allow enough time to receive the EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card before your work start date.
While you may use Optional Practical Training part time during the fall or spring semesters and full time during semester breaks, most students use their OPT full time after graduation. You are limited to a TOTAL of 12 months of OPT. For example:
- No off-campus OPT during period of study. Eligible for 12 months full time OPT after graduation
- Full-time OPT authorized after first, second and third years of school during the summer for 3 months each year. After graduation, only 3 months of full time OPT available.
- Part-time OPT authorized summer before last year of school. 3 months worked. After graduation 10 and half months of OPT available.
To apply for OPT you must first attend an information session and then make an appointment with the OISS. You may download the required form I-765. Recent updates and key points to remember while on OPT are below.