Frequently Asked Questions about OPT

  • When can I apply? 
    You can apply up to 90 days before your program end date and up to 60 days beyond your program end date.
  • Do I need a job offer in order to apply? 
  • What if I have trouble finding a job?
    You have a maximum of 90 days unemployment. Once you have exceeded the 90 days, you must leave the U.S. or obtain other status.
  • Can I volunteer?
    Students in their initial OPT, not STEM, are eligible to count volunteering or unpaid internships as OPT employment, provided the opportunity does not violate U.S. labor laws. The volunteer position or unpaid internship must meet all other OPT regulations, including that it is related to the student’s major and is at least 21 hours per week. If you volunteer, get documentation from your employer stating the dates and number of hours you volunteer.
  • When can I start to work under OPT? 
    When you have the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and the beginning date of employment authorization (shown on the EAD) has arrived.
  • Does OPT employment need to be full time?
    No. Students may work part-time (a minimum of 20 hours) or full-time.
  • What’s the difference between OPT and Curricular Practical Training (CPT)? 
    Curricular practical training permits employment during the time one is still taking classes. CPT requires the offer of a specific job. You must have departmental approval, and register for internship credits.
  • If I had CPT, can I still have OPT? 
    Yes, as long as you did not have full-time CPT for at least one year.
  • Can I change employers if I have OPT? 
    Yes. There is no immigration-related procedure required for doing so. As long as the employment is related to your field of study, you can work for any employer.
  • Is OPT a different visa? 
    No. A person with OPT authorization is an F-1 student holding an EAD for OPT.
  • How long can I stay in the United States after my OPT expires? 
    Sixty days.
  • Can I return to school after completing OPT?
    Yes. You need to obtain an I-20 for the next program of studies, and complete the Immigration procedure for moving to a “new level of studies” (if you resume studies at BSU) or the procedure for school transfer if you go to a different school
  • If I have OPT for a year and return to school for another degree, can I have another year of OPT?
    Yes, if your degree is at a higher level.
  • Can I travel outside of the country while on OPT?
    International travel while on OPT is similar to travel while you are an F-1 student. While on OPT, you are still in F-1 student status. However, there are some important differences and additional document requirements you should review here.