Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment or training which provides an opportunity for you to obtain actual work experience in the U.S. that is directly related to your field of study.
There are two types of OPT:
- Initial 12 Month Post-Completion OPT
All students must apply for the Initial 12 Month Post-Completion OPT first.
As an F-1 student you are allowed up to 12 months of OPT for each degree you pursue. For example, if you take 12 months of OPT after completing your bachelor’s degree, you are eligible for another 12 months of OPT if you later go on to complete a master's or doctoral degree.
- 24 Month STEM OPT Extension
Recipients of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in certain government-designated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for a 24-month extension of Post-Completion OPT (for a total eligibility period of up to 36 months). Details on the 24 month STEM OPT Extension can be found on this page of our website.
How to Apply
The online OPT Tutorial will walk you through the application process. Students are required to review this tutorial before applying for OPT. If you have any questions about content within the tutorial, please reach out to our office.
1. Prepare the required forms and documents outlined in the OPT Tutorial
- Most recent I-94 (retrieved from https://www.cbp.gov)
- Pay your OPT processing fee online here and save your receipt
- There is a non-refundable $150 processing fee for initial 12 month OPT applications. There will be a non-refundable $300 processing fee for STEM OPT Extensions.
2. Log into the UCSBGlobal platform and fill out the OPT Request form. You will be prompted to upload a copy of the required documents listed above. You will also be asked to enter the following information:
- Your requested OPT start date (the tutorial will help you determine this date)
- Your degree level (undergraduate vs. graduate)
- Your academic advisor name and email address
- Undergraduates: this is your College Advisor
- Graduates: this is your Academic Department Advisor
3. Once you submit the OPT Request form on UCSBGlobal, your academic advisor will receive an email notification with instructions to verify your expected program end date, and that they recommend that you engage in practical training relating to your field of study. Please make sure to read the section below about the expected program end date.
4. An OISS advisor will review all your information and documents for accuracy. Your advisor will contact you if any corrections need to be made, and you'll have an opportunity to submit any corrections.
5. Once your OPT Request has been approved, you will receive an approval notification from OISS. Refer back to the OPT Tutorial for instructions on how to submit your OPT Application to USCIS. You will also be provided with an updated I-20 with your OPT-recommended dates on Page 2.