OPT Frequently Asked Questions

Are you considering Optional Practical Training (OPT)?  Do you have questions?  We have answers!  Please review the "Frequently Asked Questions" below.  It is divided into three sections:  General OPT Questions, Questions about the OPT Stem Extentions, and then OPT and Travel.  Additional information can be found on our pages for OPT and OPT Stem Extensions.

Also, please take the time to review the presentation by David Ware, noted immigration attorney.  It provides information on post-graduation employment options for students graduating from US institutions, while also providing information on transitioning to H-1B status and permanent resident status.  David Ware presented this information at UAF on April 14, 2011, and we'd like to thank him for allowing us to publish it to our website.
David Ware's "Post Graduation Employment Options: Clearing All the Hurdles"   Powerpoint / PDF

If you need more information about OPT, please feel free to contact Carol Holz to set up an OPT advising appointment or ask for the date of the next OPT Workshop.

The following FAQ is provided is a modified version courtesy of Cornell University's International Students and Scholars Office.

General OPT Questions

1. What is F-1 Optional Practical Training?

2. What are the Eligibility Requirements for F-1 Optional Practical Training?

3. If I complete one degree program, take 12 months of practical training, and then begin a second course of study, am I eligible for an additional 12 months of practical training?

4. How can I use optional practical training while I am still in my program?

5. How long does it take to get authorization for OPT and when should I apply?

6. UH-OH!!!! I submitted my OPT application with my current address but now I am moving!

7. Do I need to have a job to apply for optional practical training?

8. Do I need to have a job while I am on optional practical training?

9. Does the job I have while on OPT have to be paid employment, or can it be unpaid?

10. Can I begin working before I receive the Employment Authorization Document?

11. Do I have to do anything with UAF International Programs & Initiatives while I am on OPT?

12. Can I extend my OPT after the 12 months?

OPT STEM Extension Information

13. What is the 17 month STEM extension of OPT?

14. I think I qualify, how do I apply for the 17 month extension?

15. What are the “STEM” fields?

16. What is “E-Verify”?

17. Are there any other requirements while I am on the 17-month extension?

OPT and Travel

18. Now that I've turned in my application, can I travel outside the U.S. while I wait for the card to come?

19. I want to leave the U.S. for a short time while my OPT application is in process, but I need to return before the card will arrive. I have a tourist visa (B2) that is valid for 10 years. Can’t I just enter the U.S. on my tourist visa while I’m waiting to get the EAD card, then start work with the card once I get it?

20. What documents do I need to re-enter the U.S. while on OPT?

21. What if I have applied for the 17 month extension but I have not yet received the card, can I travel out of the U.S.?

22. The visa stamp in my passport has expired, but I need to travel outside the U.S. while on OPT. Do I need to get a new visa stamp at an embassy?

23. In what ways is my application to the embassy for a new visa stamp affected by being on Optional Practical Training?

24. What documents do I need to show at the embassy for a new visa stamp under OPT?

25. Do I still need to get the travel line on my I-20 signed by UAF International Programs & Initiatives during the year of OPT?

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