Optional Practical Training

As an F-1 student visa holder, you can gain up to one year of real work experience in your field of study by taking part in Optional Practical Training (OPT). You are allowed one 12-month OPT period for each degree earned at a higher educational level.

You do not need to have a job offer in hand to apply for OPT. However, any time during the authorized period of OPT in which a you do not work will be forfeited.

You must remain in contact with JWU while taking part in OPT. In addition, any change of address during OPT periods must be reported to USCIS through your international student advisor.

Optional Practical Training can be used during the following times:

  • Vacation and other times when school is not in session, provided that you are currently enrolled and intend to register for the next term
  • While school is in session (OPT must not exceed 20 hours/week)
  • After completing all course requirements for the degree

Employment must be directly related to your major field of study and at your level of education. Participants must have maintained lawful F-1 student status for at least one academic year (three terms).

If you would like more information about OPT, you should plan to meet with an international student advisor to review your OPT requirements prior to your last term of enrollment or plan on attending an OPT information session hosted by International Student Services. Dates and times will be communicated to you via email.

Procedure
You must submit the following items to your international student advisor:

  • A complete USCIS I–765 form
  • Two passport photographs that meet USCIS specifications  
  • Photocopies of all previous I-20s
  • Photocopies of passport, F-1 visa and I-94
  • A certified bank check or money order for $380.00 made payable to US Department of Homeland Security

Responsibilities while on OPT
If you are participating in Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must remain in contact with JWU in order to maintain your F-1 status.

In addition, any change of address or employer during training periods must be reported to your international student advisor, as well as USCIS, by filing an AR-11 form within 10 days of the move.

Your authorization for OPT will be automatically terminated in the event that you leave the US for more than 5 months or re-enter in another immigration status (such as a visitor).

Your authorization will also be terminated if you officially transfer to another school or begin study at another educational level; this would require you to get a new I-20.