Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment authorization for employment opportunities that are directly related to your field of study.
- You do not need to be receiving academic credit to be eligible.
- OPT is granted for a maximum of 12 months per degree level. (You can do OPT in your field of study for 12 months after you graduate from UND.)
- Students in certain STEM degrees may be eligible for one 24-month extension of post-completion OPT.
- To maintain legal status while on OPT, you must complete the OPT Reporting Form within ten days of beginning a new job, a change in job information, or every six months if nothing changes. STEM students have additional reporting and evaluation requirements.
- The filing fee is non-refundable
- USCIS must receive and log all OPT applications within the 30 days of the OPT I-20
- Applications received with I-20s older than 30 days will not be considered.
- USCIS must receive and log all Post-Completion OPT applications no later than 60 days after the program end date listed on the OPT I-20 and STEM extension applications before the original OPT expires. Applications not logged by USCIS adjudicators within 60 days of the program end date will be denied
- If you plan to make an appointment, please have a completed packet of all the items on the OPT Checklist. Please do not bring original documents to your appointment. If your packet is incomplete, you may be asked to make another appointment. If you do not require an appointment, please allow 2-4 days for application review and processing.
Types of OPT
You may be approved for Pre-Completion or Post-Completion OPT. Certain students are eligible to extend Post-Completion OPT if they have degrees in STEM fields.
- On a part time basis while pursuing your program
- Full time during summer vacation
- Full time for students who have completed all requirements for their degrees except for the thesis or equivalent (may also qualify as post-completion)
- Full time for all students during the year immediately following completion of the program
- Applications for post-completion must be submitted no earlier than 90 days before the graduation date and no later than 60 days following graduation. We strongly recommend submitting earlier rather than later.
- Students who have completed degrees in STEM-designated fields may qualify for an extension of 24 additional months. To determine if you qualify, check the six-digit code that follows your major on your I-20. If that code appears on the STEM list, you may apply for a STEM extension with an E-Verify Employer.
- See the USCIS STEM Extension Page for full details
- See the International Center's STEM Extension Information for full details about the process at UND.
To begin the application process, please follow the instructions below. You must work with an International Student Advisor. OPT authorization is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and you will be required to pay a filling fee to USCIS.
- OPT Checklist - Use this checklist! It will aid you to gather and complete the necessary documents.
- Employment Application Instructions - Use this page to complete your form I-765.
- Optional Practical Training Information Sheet - Review this information!
- Work with the appropriate person(s) to complete the required recommendation or training
- Undergraduate Students
Undergraduate Request Form - work with your Academic Advisor to complete this form
- Graduate Students
Graduate Request Form - work with your Academic Advisor or Department Chair to complete this form
- STEM Extension Applicants
Form I-983 - work with your employer to complete this form. Use the I-983 page one instructions to complete the first page of the form.
- Undergraduate Students
- Email your documents to an International Student Advisor or schedule an appointment for document review.
- Mailing Checklist - Review the mailing checklist to assemble your application packet once you have received
your new I-20 with an OPT recommendation.
We recommend mailing your application via UEMS.
Submitting your Application Online
F-1 students seeking Post-Completion OPT or STEM Extension OPT may submit their applications online via myUSCIS. The online filing option allows F-1 students to apply for the STEM OPT Extension EAD, upload supporting application documents, pay the filing fee, track the status of their application, communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox, and respond to Requests for Evidence (RFE).
Students who wish to file online must complete "Application" steps 1, 3, 4 (above) before filing online. We provide the following guides to assist students in submitting their I-765 online:
After Submitting Your Application
- You should receive a receipt with a receipt number about two weeks after USCIS receives your application. You can use this number to check the status of your application
- Applications typically take 90 days to be processed, though they can take longer, especially for pre-completion OPT. Please consider this in deciding when to apply
- Expedited processing is not available
- Even if your OPT is approved, you are not authorized to work without a valid EAD card in hand.
- Once OPT has begun, students are granted a total of 90 days of unemployment while
on initial OPT.
- Students who have successfully filed for a STEM Extension are granted an additional 60 days of unemployment (totaling 150 days during the 36-month OPT period).
- If you have received employment, you must report all changes, including employment, to USCIS or to the UND International Center within 10 days. You may report employment through either your SEVP Portal or complete the OPT Reporting Form.
- STEM students must continue to update their I-983. If nothing changes students must complete the form every six months to verify their information is correct.
Preparing for Your STEM Extension
STEM Applicants Only
- Please see the International Center's STEM Extension Information for full details about the process at UND.
- A successfully filed application for the 24-month STEM OPT extension prior to the expiration of the current EAD, permits students to continue employment until the OPT extension is processed or until 180 days has passed, whichever is sooner.