Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is an F-1 work authorization benefit for off-campus employment directly related to your field of study for up to 12 months, depending on your status, academic standing, and past OPT time.

International students must complete an OPT workshop before applying for OPT; however, any international F-1 student may attend to learn more in order to plan for their future.

What will be covered in the workshop?

  • OPT overview
  • Pre-Completion vs. Post-Completion OPT
  • How to file the OPT application
  • The regulations that apply to F-1 students on OPT
  • STEM OPT Extensions

To attend OPT Workshop please register:



For questions, please contact lenka.garimella@umsl.edu

What is the timeline/steps for OPT Application?

  • Attend an OPT workshop
  • Prepare all required documents
  • Request an apointment with an international student advisor who will help you:
    • Review your OPT documents OPT Information Packet
    • Prepare a new I-20 reflecting your OPT request
    • Mail your application to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • USCIS can take around 90 days to process your application. The entire process, including mailing time, takes 90 days.

It is important to apply early so you can receive your full work authorization time. Applications processed at the end of the semester will likely not receive a full 12 months of OPT. Apply early to avoid delays, especially if you have developing job offers.

You can choose the day your OPT will begin. It is to your advantage to apply early!

Earliest date to file OPT for Spring 2020 Graduates: February 19, 2020

Latest date to file OPT for Spring 2020 Graduates: July 15, 2020

Earliest date to file OPT for Summer 2020 Graduates: May 11, 2020

Latest date to file OPT for Summer 2020 Graduates: October 7, 2020*

*If you file on this date, you risk losing days of work authorization or may miss the deadline to apply for OPT. USCIS must receive your OPT application within 60 days of your program end date.