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Optional Practical Training

A post-graduate opportunity for F-1 Students to put theory into practice, develop professional skills and build their networks in the United States.

12-Month OPT - Eligibility & how to apply

An international student who has maintained valid F-1 immigration status and is scheduled to complete all graduation requirements is eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT is temporary employment authorization for optional practical training directly related to the student’s major field of study.  Students can apply to engage in “pre-completion OPT” during their undergraduate program or “post-completion OPT” during the year directly following graduation from DePauw. Upon being approved for OPT, the student receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. Students cannot begin OPT employment until the date indicated on the EAD card.

Students must apply for OPT authorization to DePauw’s International Student Services office. Once the application for OPT is approved, ISS staff will provide students with a new I-20 Certificate of Eligibility immigration document with an endorsement for OPT on the second page. The new I-20 and required supporting documents must be sent to the USCIS within 30 days after the new I-20 is issued. OPT applications can be submitted to the USCIS as early as 90 days before graduation and can be submitted no later than 60 days after graduation.

Working before or after the authorized OPT employment dates listed on the EAD card is a violation of F-1 student immigration status and can result in termination of OPT and departure from the United States.


In order to apply for post-completion OPT, a student must be in the final semester of the undergraduate program.  F-1 students who have used more than 11 months of full-time pre-completion Curricular Practical Training (CPT) during their undergraduate degree program at DePauw are not be eligible for post-completion OPT. 

Immigration requirements during OPT

The OPT period is an extension of the undergraduate academic program. In order to remain in the United States and continue working, students must continue to maintain valid F-1 student status throughout the OPT period.  This entails engaging in a minimum of 20 hours per week of qualifying practical training activities, accepting compensation only for employment that is directly related to the major field of study, and reporting all changes listed below to International Student Services (ISS) within 10 days.  Students can engage in either paid or unpaid practical training.  All OPT positions should be documented in an official letter from the employer or host organization.

Reporting Requirements for all F1 students on OPT

During OPT F1 students are required to communicate within 10 days of change any of the following changes to ISS Office or update SEVP through the SEVIS portal:

  • change of employer, position, employer's address

  • change of student's physical address (and/or mailing address if different) and other contact information

  • decision to end OPT and leave USA

Additional Requirements for STEM OPT F1 Students

  • validating SEVIS information every 6 months through ISS Office's online OPT Update Form

  • annual self-evaluations (form I-983) completed at the 12th and 24th month of STEM OPT Extension

  • notify ISS Office and DHS of change of employers and/or termination of STEM OPT within 10 days of the change

For more information on each of these requirements and employer non-compliance please visit the Department of Homeland security Study In the States website.


OPT Application & Resources

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Application 

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Document Checklist

OPT Timeline 

OPT Update Form

Study in the States OPT Overview