Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Employment is a great way to supplement the educational experience. Authorization for employment is always required prior to accepting any form of work. See what USCIS has to say about employment for F1 students at www.ice.gov/sevis/practical-training.

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

 

What is Post-Completion OPT?

Authorization for employment granted after completion of a degree program. If you are not graduating at the end of the current term, you may want to learn more about Curricular Practical Training (CPT) instead.

Go to Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Employment Information

If you are not graduating and have been determined ineligible for CPT, please scroll down to read more about Pre-Completion OPT.

When am I eligible for OPT?

You are eligible for OPT after you complete your program of study. You are ineligible to apply if you have already completed one of the following:

  • A total of 12 months' full-time CPT
  • OPT following another degree at the same level of study
  • A degree higher than your current degree (e.g. you completed a master's degree and are now completing a bachelor's degree).

Can I apply for OPT if my ILP/IRP is not finished?

Yes, as long as your ILP/IRP is the ONLY requirement you have not yet completed. Cambridge College strongly recommends that students complete the ILP/IRP prior to beginning OPT.

Can I apply for OPT if I do not have a job offer yet?

Yes! If you have a job offer when you apply, your application may be processed more quickly, but you can certainly apply while still looking for a job.

How long does OPT authorization last?

In general, OPT is granted for 12 months. This will be reduced if you have used pre-completion OPT during your program. If you are in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field, you may be eligible for an extension of OPT.

How many hours can I work on OPT?

OPT is full-time work authorization. You are required to work at least 21 hours/week during OPT. Full-time work is usually 30-40 hours/week, but varies based on the type of employment you accept.

When can I apply for OPT?

You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before your program end-date through 60 days following your program end-date. Your program end-date is the final date of the term as listed in the Academic Calendar.

View the Academic Calendar

What happens if I can't find a job?

You are given 90 days following the OPT start-date you select to begin working. If you cannot find a job within 90 days, you will be out of status. Please apply for jobs early so that this does not happen!

How do I apply for OPT?

Please plan ahead and gather all required documents for your OPT application. Incomplete applications will not be processed. Please also mind your program end-date. Applications submitted late will be denied.

  1. Receive confirmation that you are going to graduate. You can ask your Academic Advisor to either complete the OPT Advisor form or email the ISO with confirmation that you have completed/are currently registered for all coursework required for completion of your degree.
  1. Gather all required application documents. A complete OPT application includes:
    1. Proof that you will complete all of your coursework by the end of the term (as described above)
    2. Two 2x2" passport photos, taken no more than 30 days before you submit your application
    3. A personal check, bank check, or money order in the amount of $380, made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
    4. Your current passport
    5. Your F1 visa OR your non-F1 visa and proof of approved Change of Status to F1 (I-797C, Notice of Action)
    6. ALL previous I-20s you've received in the U.S. If you have lost any of your I-20s, please contact the school that issued the I-20 and request a copy of pages 1 and 3
    7. OPTIONAL: Letter of offer from an employer
      • You can apply for OPT without a letter of offer.
      • If you have been offered a position, please bring the letter with you when you apply.
  2. Make an appointment with the ISO.
  • You must meet with the ISO in order to complete your OPT application.
  • An appointment is required. This cannot be done as a walk-in.

Request an appointment with the ISO at international@cambridgecollege.edu

  1. Mail your application to USCIS.
    • Please request a tracking number when mailing your application so that you can confirm its arrival date.
    • The application MUST be mailed within 30 days of the OPT I-20's issuance. Otherwise, it will be denied.
  2. Wait for your application to be reviewed.
    • Application processing times take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, sometimes longer.
    • This is a good time to look for a job, if you have not already received a job offer.

Request an appointment with the Career Resource Center at careerservices@cambridgecollege.edu

What are my responsibilities after I apply for OPT?

  • You are required to report to Cambridge College while engaged in OPT as Cambridge College is still responsible for your SEVIS record during that time.
  • Failure to report to the ISO in a timely manner may put your status in jeopardy.
  1. Receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This is a small card, the same size as a credit card. When you receive your card, check that all information on it is correct:
    • The spelling of your name
    • Your employment authorization start-date
    • Your employment authorization end-date
  2. Begin working on or after your start-date. You are NOT permitted to begin working until:
    • Your start-date, as listed on your EAD card, or
    • Your card arrives, even if it arrives after your selected start-date
  3. Provide a letter of offer from all employers. Letters must be on company letterhead, dated, and signed by your employer. The following information MUST be included in a letter of offer:
    1. Employer/Company name
    2. Employer/Company address
    3. Your name
    4. Your position with the company
    5. Your employment start-date
    6. Your employment end-date (if applicable)
    7. Number of hours per week
    8. General responsibilities
  1. Keep your information updated with the ISO. You are required to notify the ISO of any changes within 10 days of the change taking effect. Please email the ISO with any changes or updates to:
    1. Your current residential address
    2. Your current phone number
    3. Your current email address
    4. Any changes in employment
    5. Any periods of unemployment
    6. Change to another status
    7. Permanent departure from the U.S.
    8. Intent to transfer to another institution or education level at Cambridge College

Email updated information to the ISO at international@cambridgecollege.edu

What happens if my employer wants to sponsor me for H1-B?

H1-B applications are due in April, with the change of status to H1-B occurring on 1 October. If your OPT does not expire before the application is submitted in April, you are eligible for a cap-gap extension. Please contact the ISO if your employer will sponsor your H1-B.

Email the ISO about the H1-B cap-gap extension at international@cambridgecollege.edu

Learn more about H1-B at www.uscis.gov/h-1b_count

 

Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

 

What is Pre-Completion OPT?

Authorization for employment granted before you graduate. This employment must be directly related to your field of study, but is independent of your coursework.

Pre-completion OPT depletes your eligibility for post-completion OPT at a rate of 1/2. This means that 2 months of pre-completion OPT subtracts 1 month of post-completion OPT eligibility. Please talk with your professors about your eligibility for CPT prior to applying for pre-completion OPT.

Go to Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Employment Information

When am I eligible for OPT?

You are eligible for OPT after you have completed 2 full terms of study with Cambridge College.

Can I apply for OPT if I do not have a job offer yet?

Yes. If you have a job offer when you apply, your application may be processed more quickly, but you can apply while still looking for a job.

How long does OPT authorization last?

You may apply for anywhere from 1 month to 12 months of pre-completion OPT.

How many hours can I work on OPT?

  • In Fall term: Part-time employment ONLY. Employment MUST NOT exceed 20 hours/week.
  • In Spring term: Part-time employment ONLY: Employment MUST NOT exceed 20 hours/week.
  • In Summer term: Part-time or Full-time employment permitted. If you are authorized for part-time employment, you MUST NOT exceed 20 hours/week.

What happens if I can't find a job?

There is no penalty for not working during periods of approved pre-completion OPT. However, it is best not to apply for pre-completion OPT if you do not have a job offer already.

How do I apply for OPT?

Please plan ahead and gather all required documents for your OPT application. Incomplete applications will not be processed. Please also mind your program end-date. Applications submitted late will be denied.

  1. Gather all required application documents. A complete OPT application includes:
    1. Two 2x2" passport photos, taken no more than 30 days before you submit your application.
    2. A personal check, bank check, or money order in the amount of $380, made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
    3. Your current passport.
    4. Your F1 visa OR your non-F1 visa and proof of approved Change of Status to F1 (I-797C, Notice of Action)
    5. ALL previous I-20s you've received in the U.S. If you have lost any of your I-20s, please contact the school that issued the I-20 and request a copy of pages 1 and 3.
    6. OPTIONAL: Letter of offer from an employer.
      • You can apply for OPT without a letter of offer.
      • If you have been offered a position, please bring the letter with you when you apply.
  2. Make an appointment with the ISO.
    • You must meet with the ISO in order to complete your OPT application.
    • An appointment is required; this cannot be done as a walk-in.

Request an appointment with the ISO at international@cambridgecollege.edu

  1. Mail your application to USCIS.
    • Please request a tracking number when mailing your application so that you can confirm its arrival date.
    • The application MUST be mailed within 30 days of the OPT I-20's issuance. Otherwise, it will be denied.
  2. Wait for your application to be reviewed.
    • Application processing times take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, sometimes longer.
    • This is a good time to look for a job, if you have not already received a job offer.

Request an appointment with the Career Resource Center at careerservices@cambridgecollege.edu

What are my responsibilities after I apply for OPT?

You are required to report to Cambridge College while engaged in OPT, as Cambridge College is still responsible for your SEVIS record during that time. Failure to report to the ISO in a timely manner may put your status in jeopardy.

  1. Receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  2. This is a small card, the same size as a credit card.
  3. When you receive your card, check that all information on it is correct including
    • The spelling of your name
    • Your employment authorization start-date
    • Your employment end-dates.

Note: You may not begin working until your card arrives even if it arrives after your selected start-date.

  1. Begin working on or after your start-date.
    • You are NOT permitted to begin working until your start-date as listed on your EAD card.
    • You may not begin working until your card arrives even if it arrives after your selected start-date.
  2. Provide a letter of offer from all employers. Letters must be on company letterhead, dated, and signed by your employer. The following information MUST be included in a letter of offer:
    1. Employer/Company name
    2. Employer/Company address
    3. Your name
    4. Your position with the company
    5. Your employment start-date
    6. Your employment end-date (if applicable)
    7. Number of hours per week
    8. General responsibilities