Optional Practical Training (OPT)
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NOTE: This page offers information regarding the 12-month period of OPT for which most students in F-1 status are eligible. If you are seeking information about the 17-month extension of OPT for students in STEM fields, click here.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit of F-1 immigration status that permits up to 12 months of off-campus employment for the purpose of gaining practical experience in the student's chosen field (based on your major, or majors). Pre-Completion OPT is for continuing students and Post-Completion OPT is for seniors who are applying for work authorization after graduation. While the student may work for any employer in the U.S., the job duties must be directly related to the student’s major area of study and commensurate with the student’s educational level.
Students must have employment authorization to receive any kind of compensation at all from an off-campus employer. This includes a travel allowance, a food stipend, room and board, etc. Accepting any kind of compensation from an off-campus employer without OPT employment authorization is a violation to a student's non-immigrant status, and can have serious consequences on a student's current and future status.
It can take up to 90 days to receive OPT employment authorization. A student should apply at least 3 months before the anticipated start date. A secured job is not a requirement to apply for OPT, as OPT is not employer specific.
Please note that you must be in the United States to apply for OPT. You cannot apply from overseas.
In addition, you must be enrolled in F-1 student status for a full academic year before being eligible to apply for OPT.
ISSS holds workshops on Optional Practical Training in the fall and early in the spring semester. Please see the events calendar on the main page for announcements on dates and times. You may also contact ISSS at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an individual OPT meeting.
OPT applications are available for download on the right hand side of this page. A complete OPT application consists of the three application forms and supporting documents listed in the instructions:
1. OPT Instructions
2. Three OPT application forms
- Middlebury College OPT application
- Governmental application (OPT Form I-765)
- Letter regarding mailing address (contained in the OPT Instructions Document)
For more information, please refer to the OPT Instructions document or to the OPT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).