Optional Practical Training

Introduction to Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students interested in OPT must complete the new "Optional Practical Training for F-1 Students" Canvas course prior to scheduling an OPT appointment. This self-paced course will provide you with all the necessary information to file for OPT, and understand your responsibilites while on approved OPT. 

Request access to the OPT Canvas course here!

What is "Practical Training"?

Practical training is a temporary work authorization for F-1 students, granted by the United States government, designed to give students an opportunity to gain work experience in their field of study prior to (pre-completion) or after graduation (post-completion).


Students can use OPT to find a job in a field closely related to your major of study, and appropriate to the level of education. You are eligible to apply for OPT if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are currently in F-1 visa status as a full-time student or are in the last quarter of degree completion
  • You have been in the United States and in F-1 visa status for at least one academic year, or will complete one year by the time OPT approval begins
  • You have NOT been authorized for a total of 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility
  • You have NOT previously completed 12 months of OPT at the same education level

Post-completion OPT

Post-completion OPT takes place after you have completed your academic program. This is the most common type of OPT, and is always considered full-time with the government. Whether you work 15 or 40 hours per week, it will count as full-time and counts towards your 12 months of available OPT.

  • You can apply for OPT as early as 90 days before the end of your program
  • You can apply for OPT as late as the end of your 60-day grace period (i.e. 60 days after your I-20 end date) - though we recommend applying as early as possible
  • Following are the earliest days you can set up your OPT appointment for:
Last Quarter Earliest OPT Appointment
Fall 2022 September 15, 2022
Winter 2023 December 23, 2022
Spring 2023 March 15, 2023
Summer 2023 (graduating in August) May 31, 2023
Summer 2023 (graduating in September) June 14, 2023

Pre-completion OPT

Students also have the option of doing training part-time while still a full-time student, which is called Pre-completion OPT. If you choose this option, you can work up to 20 hours a week while school is in session, as long as you complete a full-time course load. During your annual vacation quarter and the break between quarters, you can work full-time (20-40 hours per week).

  • Pre-completion training is counted against the 12-month total as follows:
    • 4 months part-time = 2 months full-time
  • Because Pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months of OPT eligibility, most students prefer to save their OPT for after program completion. However, students who may be leaving the US after completing their program or starting a higher-level degree immediately after graduation may choose this option
  • Students can apply for Pre-completion OPT as early as 90 days before the preferred start date
When Can I Start Working?
Training Stage Details
Post-Completion Training You can request a particular day to start and end your training when you apply. The start date you request can be, at the earliest, the day after you complete all degree requirements, and at the latest, 60 days after.
You cannot start working before you receive your EAD, or before the start date on the EAD.
Pre-Completion Training You can request any start date and end date of your training, as long as you maintain your full-time student status during the duration of your training.
You cannot start working before you receive your EAD, or before the start date on the EAD.

The OPT Application Process

Begin the OPT Canvas Course for a step-by-step guide on how to apply for your OPT through the ISC. 

After your application is sent, you will be sent a receipt notice in about 1-2 weeks. Once you have received your receipt notice, you will be able to check the status of your individual application at https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do with your receipt number.

Your application should be adjudicated and your Employment Authorization Document should be issued in 2-3 months after your receipt arrives. 

After you find a job, be sure to update your SEVP portal with your employment information. This is important so you do not continue accruing unemployment! Next, inform your advisor or email isc@seattleu.edu with the following information so your advisor can issue you an updated I-20. Please also email your advisor if any of this information changes during your time on OPT.

  • Explain how employment is related to your course of study:
  • Employer Name:
  • Job Title:
  • Number of hours per week:
  • Start Date:
  • End Date (if known):
  • Employer Physical Address:
  • Supervisor Last Name:
  • Supervisor First Name:
  • Supervisor Telephone Number OR Email Address:
  • Current U.S. Physical Address: