What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work authorization available to eligible F-1 students who have completed an academic program in the U.S. and want to gain practical work experience in their field of study. OPT work must be directly related to the student’s major field of study and at the appropriate degree level. OPT is authorized in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card for up to 12 months by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
When do F-1 students become eligible for OPT?
To be eligible for OPT, TMCC students must be:
- Enrolled full-time for one academic year.
- In good academic standing (minimum 2.0 GPA).
- In valid F-1 immigration status.
- In their final semester at TMCC.
How can OPT-eligible students begin the OPT application process?
To apply for OPT, students must follow these steps (see Application Process, below, for complete details):
- View the online OPT workshop or schedule an appointment with TMCC International Admissions.
- Complete the OPT Request Form.
- Schedule an appointment with your International Academic Advisor to complete the Academic Recommendation section of the OPT Request Form.
- Schedule an appointment with International Admissions to turn in your complete OPT Packet.
Are there any limitations on OPT?
- TMCC recommends F-1 students for “post-completion” OPT for OPT work to begin after a student’s completion of their academic program at TMCC.
- Students are eligible for OPT work during the OPT period printed on their EAD card, issued by USCIS.
- Unemployment on OPT is limited to 90 days during the 12 months of authorized OPT period.
- If a student works full-time on CPT for 12 months or more, the student loses their OPT.
- Part-time CPT, even if more than 12 months are used up, does not affect OPT eligibility.
Do students have to pay for OPT? ·
The current USCIS application fee is $410. For updated fee information visit USCIS.
- Request an I-20 with OPT recommendation from TMCC.
- Submit your completed OPT Request documents to TMCC International Student Services.
You may come by during office hours, or contact us to schedule an appointment. Submit the following documents:
- Completed TMCC OPT Request Form
- Completed USCIS Form I-765 (EAD application)
- Copy of I-94 record (or copy front and back of paper I-94 which is the small white card stapled into your passport)
- Pick up your OPT I-20.
- You will receive an email from TMCC International Student Services letting you know your OPT I-20 is available for pick up.
- Allow 5 working days for processing time.
- Review all the required documents (refer to the OPT Application Checklist) and mail them to USCIS.
USCIS Case Status and Maintaining F-1 Status on OPT
After you mail out your I-765 application, you will receive an OPT receipt called "Notice of Action" or form I-797, which will include a case number or WAC#. You can check the status of your application online using your WAC #.
Copy of EAD Card
After you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from USCIS, email us a copy. This helps us maintain updated records in SEVIS.
OPT Reporting Requirements
Report any of the following changes within 10 days to TMCC International Student Services. TMCC will update the immigration database (SEVIS System) with the new information.
- Residential or Mailing Address
- Email Address
- Legal Name
- Employment/Unemployment Status
- Employer Name and Address
- Permanent Departure from the U.S.
International Travel on OPT
For traveling out of the U.S. during OPT, contact us and/or refer to the online OPT workshop.
Transferring During OPT to a SEVIS-Approved School
If you’ve been accepted at another SEVIS-approved school during your period of OPT, contact us to have your SEVIS record transferred to the new school. Once your SEVIS record has been transferred, your OPT period ends and you must stop working.
Maximum 90 Days of Unemployment
Immigration regulations allow for a maximum of 90 days of unemployment during the 12 months of post-completion OPT. If you exceed this, you are considered to be out-of-status and have to depart the U.S. immediately. If you are nearing the 90-day limit, contact us.