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Optional Practical Training allows F-1 students to be employed for 12 months after completion of their programs. The employment must be directly related to majors or areas of study. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training. The student may not begin OPT until the date indicated on his or her employment authorization document (EAD), Form I-766.
You are eligible to apply for standard, post-completion OPT, if you meet the following criteria:
• You are currently in lawful F-1 status.
• You have been enrolled in a full course of study or equivalent for at least one academic year.
• You are in good academic standing.
• You have completed, or are in the process of completing your degree required coursework.
• You have not already participated in post-completion OPT at your current degree level or exceeded 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT). One OPT is granted per degree level.
When to Apply
Apply early! Applications for OPT may be received by USCIS as early as 90 days before your program end date. CIE will not accept OPT applications 50 days after your program end date. USCIS may take up to 90 days to process your application and you may not begin working until you receive the approval (EAD card) and your start date on your EAD card has begun. Apply as early as possible!
How to Apply
Sign up for the OPT/STEM OPT e-Newsletter.
Currently, the best way to get OPT updates from CSULB is the F-1 OPT e-newsletter. Due to constant changes in regulations regarding employment and F-1 status, it is strongly recommended that you remain on the newsletter mailing list until you finish your OPT. You are solely responsible for maintaining your F-1 OPT status. Sign up for the Newsletter here.
o Single full-time or multiple part-time jobs• Maintain evidence - for each job - of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for the your supervisor or manager and a description of the work.
o Multiple, short-term jobs
o Work for hire/independent contractor
o Self-employed business owner
o Employment through an agency
o Volunteer/unpaid internships where U.S. Labor Laws permit. See Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act for more details.
o Current employer
o Termination of employment
o Unemployment periods
o Changes to your name
o Changes to your U.S. mailing address and contact information
o Termination of your OPT period
Travel Outside the U.S.
It is not recommended that you travel while you are waiting for your EAD card. If you choose to travel, you must bring the following documents with you:
Make sure you have not exceeded unemployment time and that you continue to maintain F-1 status by fulfilling all mandatory reporting requirements.
Report the end your OPT at any time by completing the OPT Employment and Address Update Form.
F-1 students who complete their OPT period successfully until the end of their Employment Authorization Card (EAD) have a 60-day grace period. During the grace period, students must prepare to depart the U.S., gain a new F-1 status, or change to another immigration status.
A Transfer Out Request Form must be submitted to CIE within the grace period if you plan to start a new academic program at a school other than CSULB.
H1-B Cap Gap Extension
Your OPT work authorization will be automatically extended if you are the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1 (the first day of the following fiscal year). To determine your eligibility for the Cap Gap or to request an I-20 with the Cap Gap notations, contact an International Student advisor or click here to view the request form.