Optional Practical Training (OPT) | Webster University

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training – OPT – is a temporary employment authorization for training purposes, directly related to the student's major field of study. Approval for this type of practical training employment comes from USCIS. A student may not begin optional practical training until the date indicated on his or her Employment Authorization Document. This page gives detailed information about the standard, post-completion OPT, which takes place after the course of study has been completed:

Post-Completion OPT Application Procedures

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for OPT as soon as possible. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. It may take up to three months for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process your application.

An F-1 student may submit an application for post-completion OPT as early as 90 days before the student's program completion date and up to 60 days after his or her program end date. If applying after program completion date, please make sure that your application is received by USCIS by the 60th day of the program completion date; otherwise your application will be rejected. In addition, the application must be submitted within 30 days of the date the OPT I-20 was issued.

If possible we encourage you to apply for OPT three months before your program completion date. You cannot begin work until the application is approved. If you apply 60 days after your program completion date this may result in a delayed work authorization and sometimes a loss in your 12 months of OPT eligibility because it takes USCIS about three months to process your application.

How to Apply

To apply for OPT you need to follow these steps:

Step 1: Submit OPT Request Form to intlservices@webster.edu

Step 2: After you have received the new OPT I-20 and OPT Reporting Requirements Document you must do the following immediately after receiving the package:

  • Sign and date the I-20 immediately and make copy of page 1 and 2. Keep original for yourself. This is your new I-20 from now on. We will keep the copy for our record. Submit the copy with your OPT application.
  • Do not staple documents; use paper clips to keep documents together
  • Use a BLUE pen to sign I-20 and I-765.

It is your responsibility to make sure USCIS receives all required application materials within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 being issued.

You must mail your completed application packet with tracking to USCIS within 15 days after your OPT I-20 has been issued. This is critical as the dates on the I-765, check, photos, and I-20 must be less than 30 days old.

Step 3: Include the following information, in this order, in your final application packet to USCIS:

  1. Check or Money order of $410.00 payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." This must be the first item in your application packet.
  2. Completed Form G-1145
  3. Completed and original, signed Form I-765
  4. Copy of new signed OPT I-20 (with OPT Request on Page 2)
  5. Copies of all previously issued I-20s
  6. Copy of the most current I-94 card (front and back) OR the electronic print-out from this website
  7. Copy of valid passport page with photo and expiration date
  8. Two (2) recent U.S. Style Passport Photo (taken within 30 days). Write your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo.
  9. Copy of the most recent F-1 student visa page
  10. Copy of previous Employment Authorization Card (if any)

Collect all documents and put them in the proper order. It is a best practice to make a copy of all the above documents and keep them for your records.

Step 4: Mail your OPT Application:

If you live in: Mail your application to:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands. USCIS Phoenix Lockbox,

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
USCIS
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia USCIS Dallas Lockbox


For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:
USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

 

E-Notification: If you want to receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted at a USCIS Lockbox facility, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.

Types of Employment Allowed for Post-Completion OPT

Students may accept employment that is directly related to their fields of study and should work full-time during post-completion OPT. The following options count as employment as long as they are related to the student's field of study:

  • Multiple Employers: Students may work for more than one employer,but all employment must be related to the student's degree program.Students doing pre-completion OPT may work for more than one employer but, cannot exceed the 20 hours allowed per week when school is in session.
  • Short-Term Multiple Employers (performing artists): Students such as musicians and other type of performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). Students are asked to keep a list of all gigs, dates of employment, and the duration.
  • Self-employed Business Owners: Students can start their own businesses and be self-employed. They must be able to prove that they have the proper business licenses and that they are actively engaged in a business related to their degree programs.
  • Contract Employment (Work for hire): Students can work as independent contractors. Students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract period and the name and address of the contracting company if requested by DHS.
  • Employment through Agencies or Consulting firms: Students can be employed through employment agencies or consulting firms, but must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agencies or the firms.
  • Paid Employment: Students may work part time (at most 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full time.
  • Unpaid Employment/Volunteer Work: Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns in their fields of study, so long as it the practice does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for a student on post-completion OPT. They must be prepared to provide evidence from the employer to verify that they worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

F1 students pursuing post completion Optional Practical Training must report to International Services at Webster University, St. Louis, the following information:

  • Current home address in the United States
  • Employer's Information

This information must be updated any time a change occurs via:

Address and Name Change Form
-or-
OPT & STEM OPT Reporting Form

Important Reminders:

  • Students have 90 days from the start date on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to find employment in their field.
  • More than 90 days of unemployment on OPT is considered to be a violation of F1 status. This is a total number over the course of your entire OPT time.
  • Students must wait until they receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS to begin working.
  • Employment must be 20 hours or more per week. Volunteer work or unpaid internships count as employment as long as they are related to your field of study.


Cap-Gap Extension

F-1 students, who are the beneficiaries of an H-1B petition subject to the cap (quota) on the number of H-1B petitions accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a given year (65,000), cannot begin employment until the beginning of the next fiscal year (October 1st). The cap-gap extension automatically extends the duration of your F-1 status and sometimes your OPT employment authorization to September 30. Therefore, the cap-gap extension is only available to an F-1 student who is currently on OPT and who has an approved or pending H-1B petition. If the student's post-completion OPT has not yet expired, it will also be automatically extended.