Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training is defined in the regulations as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study." The student can use it during or after program completion. To be eligible, the student must have been enrolled for classes for at least one academic year (fall and spring semesters). Pre-completion OPT is always part-time and can be used at any time during the degree program. Post-completion OPT is full-time and is granted only after graduation or completion of the degree program. A maximum of 12 months of OPT employment is permitted for each higher educational level.
Applying for OPT - Documents Required
Call 352 273 1541 to schedule an appointment to meet with your International Student Advisor. Forms mentioned are available at the bottom of this page. Please complete all forms ELECTRONICALLY so that there is not a misunderstanding in your handwriting. You must bring all of the following documents with you to your appointment.
- Completed I-765 Form (Application for Employment Authorization).
- You MUST ELECTRONICALLY TYPE your responses; handwriting NOT accepted, except in the “Applicant’s Signature” area.
- Under “I am applying for” please select “Permission to Accept Employment” for Post Completion Standard OPT.
- Item # 3: Input the complete address where you will be able to receive your OPT NOA Receipt in three weeks from application, and the OPT card in 90-100 days from application.
- If you move while your application is pending, you must immediately complete the ONLINE USCIS AR-11 Form in order to have your card shipped to the correct address.
- If you move while your application is pending, you must also file a change of address form with USPS. This is highly recommended that you also do this, in case USCIS ships your card before their system notifies them of your change of address.
- Item # 9a and 9b, and subsequently Items 10-13:
- If you currently have a Social Security Number, answer YES in 9a and input your SSN in 9b. Skip questions 10-13.
- If you do NOT currently have a Social Security Number and would like to apply for one along with the OPT card, answer NO to 9a, skip 9b, answer YES to 10 and 11, and complete questions 12-13
- Item #14: Input is the Admission number found on your most recent your I-94
- Item # 20: Input (c)(3)(B) for Post Completion Standard OPT
- Item # 21-23: Leave blank; they do not apply to F1 students applying for Post Completion Standard OPT
- Certification: Your signature must be handwritten/manually signed
- Do not complete the section which states “Signature of Person Preparing Form, If Other Than Applicant” since you are the applicant
- Form G-1145 – USCIS will send you a one-time e-mail and/or text message confirming they have received your application, and will provide your application receipt number. You MUST ELECTRONICALLY TYPE your responses; handwriting NOT accepted.
- I-94 Form
- Copy of your most recent F1 Visa (does not need to be valid); bring the original visa/passport book with you to your appointment, also
- Copy of your Passport (must be valid/unexpired); bring the original visa/passport book with you to your appointment, also
- The Departmental Confirmation letter, on department letterhead; please request your academic department to provide this (see sample letter) to you prior to your appointment
- OPT Questionnaire
- $410.00 USCIS Fee for processing your application
- This may be a personal check, money order, or cashier's check, made payable to the Department of Homeland Security; cash not accepted
- You may obtain a money order or cashier’s check at most grocery stores, gas stations, your bank, or the post office
- Two US Regulation Passport Photos of yourself
- Must be in color, white background, and taken within 30 days of the filing of the application
- Cannot be the exact same picture as in your visa or passport
- Print your full name and I-94 number in pencil or felt tip pen (thin sharpie) on the back of each photo
- You may obtain passport photos at the UF Mail & Document Services, Bldg. 715, Radio Road or at a local Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens, etc.
- If applicable, copies of any previously issued EAD cards (front and back); bring the original EAD card with you to your appointment, also
- Your current I-20
Following your appointment, you will mail your application to USCIS.
- If you choose to apply for OPT, you must do so between the 90 days before graduation or during the 60 day grace period from your graduation day. The OPT application MUST arrive at the USCIS Service Center before the 60 day grace period expires.
- If you have an assistantship/fellowship, you may apply for OPT within the 90 days before your contract end date (which is 5/15, 8/15, or 12/31, depending on which semester you will graduate) or during the 60 day grace period from your graduation day.
- Students planning to apply for CLEAR PRIOR must apply for OPT between the 90 days before the Clear Prior deadline or during the 60 days after the Clear Prior deadline. The OPT application MUST arrive at the USCIS Service Center before the 60th day after the Clear Prior deadline. Please click here for more information.
- You must be in valid full-time student status for at least 2 semesters at the time of application (fall and spring semesters only).
- Post-completion OPT is granted to students who will work after graduation/completion of the degree program.
- You are only eligible for 12 months of full-time OPT for each higher degree earned.
- You may apply for OPT either within 90 days before you graduate or complete your coursework, or during the 60 day grace period following the graduation day.
- OPT is obtained through the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
- The earliest you can apply for post-completion OPT is 90 days before your graduation or completion date.
- If your OPT is approved, you will be issued an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card, which you must have before you begin working.
- You choose the date you wish to begin working, but the start-date cannot be more than 60 days after your graduation/ degree completion.
- You do not need to have a job when you apply for OPT.
- You must work in a position directly related to your field of study.
- Post-completion OPT is considered full-time employment.
- Application fee for OPT is $410.00, payable to the Department of Homeland Security.
- Leaving the country after graduation but before you begin working is risky.
- If you leave the country, be sure to have your EAD card, your I-20 (signed within the last 6 months), a job or job offer, a valid passport, and a valid visa for re-entry.
- OPT Employment / Home Address Reporting: You are required to maintain contact with UFIC while on OPT to keep your SEVIS record updated with your current address and email, and with your employment information.
How long does it take?
It can take up to 3 months for you to receive your EAD card. If you have your SRC (receipt) number from your Notice of Action, you may check the status of your application at the USCIS Dashboard.
What happens if I start a new program or my OPT expires?
When a student is admitted to a new program or transfers to another program, the remaining portion of OPT is terminated when the sponsoring school registers the student for the new program in SEVIS.
At the completion of OPT, students will have a 60-day grace period to leave the country, change visa status, or transfer to a new program of study with a starting date no later than 5 months after OPT completion date.
For more information, please visit:
You may request withdrawal of your OPT application if:
- you are unable to meet an academic requirement for degree completion and are therefore unable to graduate, or
- you will graduate as expected from the current program, and have received admission to a new degree program which will start within 150 days of your graduation/Clear Prior date.
- If your new degree program will be at UF,
- If your new degree program will be at another US institution,
- If you are unable to graduate or Clear Prior as expected, please contact your F-1 Advisor to advise them that you will not graduate or Clear Prior as planned. Generally, you may choose to keep your OPT application in process or you may request the withdrawal of a pending OPT application. However, in the following cases, a pending OPT application cannot be withdrawn:
- The I-20 program end date has expired
- USCIS has approved or produced the OPT card
- The 60-day grace period has ended
- If you are unable to graduate or Clear Prior as expected and choose to continue with your OPT application processing or find that you cannot request a withdrawal, then adhere to the following guidelines:
- Bachelor and Non-Thesis Master students unable to graduate: your employment while on OPT is limited to 20 hours or less per week until you are able to graduate. You may then work over 20 hours once you have graduated. You must graduate before your OPT expires.
- Thesis-Master and PhD students unable to graduate:
- If you have any coursework required for degree completion, your employment while on OPT is limited to 20 hours or less per week until you are able to graduate. You may then work over 20 hours once you have graduated. You must graduate before your OPT expires.
- If you only have research/thesis/dissertation requirements for degree completion, you may use your OPT part time or full time while completing your requirements. You must graduate before your OPT expires.
- If you will graduate and have been admitted to a new degree program, you must request and receive a new I-20 for the new degree program before the 60 Day Grace Period ends. The grace period ends exactly 60 days after the graduation date.