Optional Practical Training (OPT)
THE EAD, OPT AND F-1 STATUS
USCIS processing times may vary during the year. Students usually receive the EAD (OPT card) between 30 and 60 days after the application is receipted by USCIS. However, during peak periods, processing may take up to 120 business days. There is NO WAY to expedite USCIS approval of OPT applications. Students must plan ahead.
- You MUST NOT begin employment until you are in possession of the EAD from USCIS. Pursuing practical training without an EAD is unauthorized employment, which is a deportable offense.
- Your OPT begins on the start date indicated on the EAD, regardless of when the OPT is approved and regardless of when you receive the card.
- You must request a specific OPT start date at your OPT appointment with ISSS. For students applying for post-completion OPT, the requested start date can be any day within the 60 day grace period after the end date of your completion term. In most cases, this is the start date granted by USCIS, which will appear on your EAD.
- You will remain in legal F-1 status throughout any period between your program end date and the start of your OPT, and for the duration of time your OPT application is pending (even if it takes USCIS more than 60 days after your program end date to adjudicate the application).
- While on OPT and during the 60 day grace period following the expiration date on your OPT card (if you choose to stay in the US during this time), YOU WILL REMAIN IN F-1 STATUS. OPT approval and work authorization does not change your visa status. To comply with F-1 regulations, you must continue to report information to the ISSS office so ISSS advisors can keep your SEVIS information up to date. Be sure to report any changes in name, address, employment, and dependent information (if applicable).
- If you travel abroad with an expired F-1 visa, you will need to get your F-1 visa renewed to return to the US and continue working on OPT. Your EAD alone is not sufficient to enter in F-1 status. DO NOT enter under any other visa status if you plan to continue working on OPT.