Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training is the primary means of work authorization for graduates and for students whose off-campus employment is related to their major but is not an established part of the curriculum. If you will engage in an internship or other work that fulfills a course requirement prior to graduation, you may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training employment (OPT) during their course of study in the US. This 12 months may be used at any point after the completion of the first academic year. OPT may be used part-time during the school year (not usual), for paid internships in the summer, and/or post-graduation (more commonly used). This is a general review of the possibilities and basic rules.
If you choose to use OPT before graduation (for example, for a summer internship) that time is DEDUCTED from the total of 12 months for which you are eligible. If you do not use any OPT prior to graduation, you are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT to be used within 14 months of completion of the degree.
Maintaining eligibility for most types of F-1 employment means that a student must obtain a position related to his/her major and limit his or her work to: 1) no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, or 2) full-time work during school vacation periods.
Students should not assume that they are eligible to work without first contacting the associate dean of students for multicultural affairs and accessibility services and completing Form I-765, an application for an Employment Authorization Document (E.A.D.) with USCIS. The E.A.D. can take up to four months to receive. All F-1 students must familiarize themselves with the employment regulations and application procedures by consulting with the Director of International Student Services.
To learn more about OPT and the specifics of filing I-765 application form, visit http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis (go to “Forms” then scroll down to form I-765)
Remember, please do not work off campus, file an OPT application, or begin a job search before checking with the Director of International Student Services. An appointment can be made by phoning (315) 859-4021. You must bring the OPT Intent form with you to your meeting. You should also review the SEVP OPT Checklist.
Students applying for and utilizing OPT are responsible for familiarizing themselves with some important OPT requirements and reminders. Most importantly, within 10 days of the occurrence, students on OPT MUST notify the Dean of Students Office of ANY change of name, address, employer or ANY period of unemployment.
Internship with an International Organization
Students maintaining lawful F-1 status may obtain written permission to engage in an internship by a “recognized” international organization, such as the United Nations and the World Bank. Students must maintain their F-1 student status while employed by such an organization. Students must check with the associate dean of students for multicultural affairs and accessibility services to get an up to date list of organizations.