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OPT may be granted for a total of up to 12 months per degree level. Thus, a student may be eligible for OPT associated with their Bachelor's degree, another OPT associated with their Master's degree, and another OPT associated with their PhD degree.  For those students majoring in specific STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors with designated CIP codes by the Department of Homeland Security, there can be an additional 17 months of OPT beyond the initial 12 months if all eligibility qualifications for a STEM extension are met. 

For more detailed information on OPT STEM extension, please refer to the 'F-1 OPT 17-Month Extension FAQ.'  This 17-month rule can only be applied once, not for each degree level, as is the case with the initial 12-month OPT.

There are two types of OPT :
- Pre-completion OPT
- Post-completion OPT

Click here to view an official USCIS annoucement on pre-completion OPT and post-completion OPT along with an OPT extension for qualified students.

A job offer is not required at the time of OPT application as long as the employment is in the student's field of study.  All OPT applications must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS processing time varies on average from 2 months to 4 months depending on the season when the application is submitted.  Check the USCIS website for information regarding the current processing time by clicking here.  Students may NOT begin OPT until an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) has been received from USCIS.

Two Important Notes!

*OPT automatically terminates when the student transfers to another academic institution or begins to study full time at another educational level.

*Students who are enrolled in an English Language Training (ESL) program are not eligible for practical training.

If you have any additional questions about OPT not addressed on this website, please stop by our office or contact Michael Schindel at (203) 392-5454.