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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work authorization available to international students (undergraduate and graduate) who have been in valid F-1 status for two semesters and who plan to seek employment in their field of study. F-1 students are permitted to work for 12 months without the need for a work visa. Students pursuing STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) degrees can qualify for an additional 17 month extension for OPT. Authorization for Optional Practical Training (OPT) is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, USCIS – formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service or INS.

Where and How to apply for OPT?

Contact University International Students Office for instructions and the complete list of documents required to file for OPT. USCIS issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which shows the duration for which the student is authorized to work. To apply for EAD, the student need to file form I-756, Application for Employment Authorization. Student should have EAD card before beginning employment. It can take at least 90 days and frequently up to 120 days to obtain EAD. It is important that you apply for the authorization at the earliest possible date.

Tax benefits for students on OPT

International students working on OPT need not pay Social Security and Medicare Taxes. If your employer has withheld Social Security and Medicare tax in error, file Form 843 and Form 8316 to request a refund from IRS.

Relevant Links

Download Form I-765

Download I-765 Instructions



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