Eligibility for Training-Related Employment in the U.S.

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Standard Post-Completion 12-Month Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined in the regulations as “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” The period of training is 12 months, beginning immediately after graduation.

  1. OPT filing deadlines: An I-765 form can be filed up to 90 days before the program end date and up to 60 days after the program end date.
  2. To obtain OPT, a student must be employed at least 20 hours per week, but may be employed full time. Employment must be in the student’s area of study.
  3. Work can begin only after receiving the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) and on or after the start date on the EAD.
  4. The student is responsible for informing the educational institution of name, personal address, and employer name and address changes within 10 days of the change.
  5. 60 days after completion of the full course of study, or OPT, the student’s “duration of status” will end. The student must depart from the United States within 60 days.

Responsibilities while on OPT:

  1. The employment must be directly related to the student's program of study.
  2. The work must be at least 20 hours per week.
  3. The student may not be unemployed for an aggregate of more than 90 days.
  4. Regulations require a student to report any changes of name, address or interruption of employment to the PDSO during the 20 months of PDSO.

Preparation for OPT

Application and meeting (T9 students):

  1. Schedule a meeting with Lori Hanegraaf, PDSO. Contact Lori at lhanegraaf@nwhealth.edu or 952-885-5405.
  2. At the first meeting, you will discuss the application process, the opportunities and limitations of OPT, and the items to bring to the time of application.
  3. At the second meeting (no sooner than 90 days prior to graduation), all the necessary paperwork and supporting documentation will be completed for the application to the Immigration Service Center.
  4. The result of the application gives the graduate an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for one calendar year.

Items to bring to the meeting:

  • Your current Form I-20 and I-94 card
  • Passport
  • Driver's license
  • 2 passport-type photos
  • A check in American funds for the application fee (the current fee is $380)
  • Social security number
  • Name and address of employer (if known)

Review actions to be taken at the end of a course of study


Lori Hanegraaf, Principal Designated School Official (PDSO)

U.S. Government Contacts

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Customer Service: 800-375-5283 or visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Local Office: USCIS Field Office, 2901 Metro Dr., Ste 100, Bloomington, MN 55425

Bureau of Consular Affairs (U.S. Department of State)

For information on passports, visas and international travel, visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

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