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Optional Practical Training for F1 Students

F-1 students who graduate from a U.S. institution are eligible to seek employment called Optional Practical Training (OPT) to "practice" what they have learned during their studies. OPT is defined as temporary employment directly related to a student's field of study. During OPT, a student remains on F-1 status.

In addition to being directly related to their major, the OPT job must be comparable to the level of the degree earned.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for OPT, a student must:

Pre-Completion OPT vs. Post-Completion OPT

Pre-Completion OPT:

Post-Completion OPT

How to Apply for OPT

Students must email the following information to

Note: Students can visit the International Programs Support Days with the OPT documents for a face-to-face OPT document check. Pay attention to the email communications sent by the International Programs Office to your official UHV email. International Programs Office hosts mandatory OPT and "Life After Graduation" sessions every semester except Summer. Summer graduates must attend the Fall or Spring semester sessions of the year they plan to graduate. We strongly recommend undergraduate students in their junior year to start planning for OPT and graduate students in their final year to start planning for OPT. 

If a student's OPT request process is approved, USCIS issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

"Cap-Gap" OPT

This extension is for students whose H-1B petition is approved but whose OPT is ending before the requested H-1B start timeline. Check with the International Programs Office on how the Cap-Gap extension works. You can email us at

24-Month OPT STEM Extension

This extension is for students who graduated from and are working in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field. If you are granted Post-Completion OPT, you are eligible to apply for a 24-month OPT STEM extension beyond the initial 12 months of OPT if you meet all of the following conditions:

When to Apply for the STEM Extension

Apply before your current EAD expires. USCIS recommends that you apply up to 120 days before your OPT expiration. You can continue to work for only up to 180 days while the application is pending with USCIS until your case is approved or denied.

How to Apply for the STEM Extension

Email the UHV International Programs Office at for full forms and details. After you have the forms and know the procedures, submit the information below to Yvonne Garcia or, or bring them to an International Programs Office Support Day session.