What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is, “temporary employment for optional practical training related to the students major area of study.” [SEVIS Regulation 8 C.F.R. ΒΆ 214.2(f) (10) (ii)]

Optional Practical Training can be authorized at the following times:

  • During the student’s annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session if the student is currently enrolled and eligible, and intends to register for the next session.
  • While the school is in session, provided that it does not exceed 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  • After completion of all course requirements for the degree, excluding thesis or equivalent, if the student is in a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree program.
  • After completion of the course of study.

Preconditions to OPT

Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at John Carroll University for one full academic year before being eligible for OPT. OPT is available both before and after completion of the education objective, but different rules apply to pre- and post- completion programs.


Students may engage in OPT for any employer for the duration of OPT authorization, as long as the employment qualifies under OPT standards.


Cumulative maximum of 12 months per educational level. Part time OPT is deducted from the 12 month limit at 50 percent.

Hours per week

20 hours/week limit for pre-completion OPT done while school is in session and student has course work to complete. Over 20 hours/week can be requested for pre-completion OPT done during official school breaks or after student has completed all coursework required for the degree while the student is completing a thesis or dissertation. For post-completion OPT, only full-time OPT can be requested.

Field/level of work

Must be directly related to and commensurate with the level of the student’s course study.

Offer of employment

No offer of employment is required, but the student is expected to work or be actively seeking employment after the OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is issued.

Effect on other work

Prior use of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for one year or more eliminates eligibility for OPT.

Approval Process (for more see below)

Student must apply and receive an EAD from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with assistance of the Designated School Official (DSO) before work begins. EAD application must be properly filed with USCIS before the student’s program completion date. Student must begin application procedures sufficiently in advance to allow the DSO to update the SEVIS record with the recommendation, and to ensure that the I-765 is accepted by USCIS prior to the student’s completion date.

How to apply for OPT:

A student must do the following and submit it to the DSO.

  • Meet with Megan McBride at the Center for Global Education and apply in advance of the program completion date to allow the SEVIS record to be updated and for Form I-765 to be received by USCIS before the program completion date is reached.
  • Make photocopies of all prior Forms I-20
  • Submit documentation from academic adviser indicating the current academic status and the expected date of completion of studies.
  • Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, marked with the code “(c) (3) (B)” at item 16.
  • Write a check for the Form I-765 filing fee.
  • Obtain two immigration (passport size) photos.
  • Submit a copy (both sides) of Form I-94.
  • Submit a copy of the ID page(s) of passport
  • Submit a copy of the F visa page of the passport


Form i-765


Please see Megan McBride at the Center for Global Education for any questions you may have about OPT.