Application of Optional Practical Training


The OPT a one-year working opportunity for international students after their graduations. Before the new rules came out, international students only had one OPT no matter how many years you study at the college or what kind of degree (undergraduate, master or PHD etc.) you study for. For instance, if you want to continue to study master degree after bachelor degree, you can save the OPT after you finish the master degree or you can use the OPT after you get the bachelor degree. You only have one chance. However, for the newly updated OPT, international students will have another OPT opportunity if you go for a higher degree. For example, you got your bachelor degree and did your OPT, but you still can get second OPT opportunity if you go for a master degree, which is higher degree than master.


As for the procedures of applying for the OPT, there are some simply steps could be followed:


  1. Make decision if you want to take your OPT right after you graduate or not. This decision should be made as early as possible. I would like to say that latest should be in the last academic year.
  2. Contact the ISS Office (International Student Service Office) to get information about how to apply for the OPT.
  3. Attend the OPT workshop organized by ISS Office. This is very important because the ISS staffs will provide very important information about the OPT and latest rules and regulations
  4. Prepare all the documents needed for the application such as cash for photos taken by ISS Office, check for applying for the OPT. All the information will be given during workshop. That is why the workshop is very important.
  5. Decide the date you want to start your OPT. Usually, Normally, you have a two-month period after you graduate and you have to choose a date within the two-month period to start your OPT. Otherwise, you will lose the OPT opportunity. For example, if you graduate on August, 18, 2004, the last date you have to start your OPT will be Oct 17 2004.
  6. Wait for the OPT card. However, before you got your OPT card, you can not work unless you have a temporary card.
  7. Update your address always with ISS Office during your OPT, which is also very important too.


Additional information:


There are two months gross period after you finish your OPT no matter when you start your OPT. For instance, if the last of your OPT is on Oct 17, 2004, you can stay in the US till Dec 16, 2004.


PS: Above is just personal experiences. The rules and procedures are changing all the time, please always contact with ISS Office for up to date information.