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OPT - Optional Practical Training

What is OPT?

OPT or Optional Practical Training: F-1 students studying at colleges, universities, conservatories, or seminaries level may qualify for practical training, which allows them to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in his or her field of study.

Preconditions: Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a DHS-approved school for one full academic year before being eligible for OPT.

Location: Students may engage in OPT for any employer for the duration of OPT authorization, as long as the employment qualifies under OPT standards.

Duration: Standard OPT is available for a cumulative maximum of 12 months per educational level.

Field/level of work: Must be directly related to the student's course of study.

Offer of employment: No offer of employment is required to apply for standard OPT, but the student is expected to work during the OPT EAD validity period. Students on post-completion OPT are limited to a maximum of 90 days of unemployment.

Approval process:

  • DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS.
  • Student files I-765 application for EAD with USCIS
    Lockbox Facility.
  • Work can begin only after receiving EAD issued by
    USCIS, and on or after the start date on the EAD.
Applications for OPT can be submitted up to 90 days before the student's expected program completion date.

Please contact your DSO for additional information:

International Graduate Students: Ms. Dagmar Morgan, dmorgan@cn.edu or 865-471-3224

International Undergraduate Students: Ms. Shaleen Fowler, sfowler@cn.edu or 865-471-3431