Optional Practical Training (OPT) | Current International Students
Optional Practical Training, or OPT, is a 12 month temporary employment authorization that provides an opportunity for F-1 students to apply knowledge acquired from their academic program to a work experience in their major field of study. It is a benefit of maintaining status that is available during an F-1 student's course of study (pre-completion), after each degree level completed (post-completion), or may be used as a combination of both pre- and post-completion as long as one does not exceed the equivalent of 12 months of OPT authorization. Students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields may qualify to apply for an additional 24 months of work authorization beyond their initial 12 months of OPT.
Learn more about STEM Optional Practical Training.
The Carroll University Optional Practical Training (OPT) Application can be found through the International Student Support Canvas Course.
Please contact your international student advisor for additional information regarding this application form.
Standard OPT Eligibility
To be eligible for OPT you must:
- Be maintaining lawful F-1 visa status
- Have been enrolled full time for an academic year in a degree-seeking program (academic year requirement may be fulfilled at Carroll University, a previous University, or between multiple universities)
- Have not completed more than 364 days of full-time CPT
- Have not utilized an equivalent of 12 months of OPT work authorization in a current degree level
- Intend to obtain employment in a position directly related to your major field of study – you do not need a job offer first; you can apply for OPT without a job offer
Pre-Completion OPT may be part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week). Post-Completion OPT must be full-time (more than 20 hours per week). Students may have multiple employers to meet the full-time requirement (example: two jobs each with 10 hours/week).
OPT is not tied to course registration.
Paid vs. Unpaid
UUnpaid volunteer and internship positions are permitted on OPT as long as federal labor laws are not violated. This is especially important in the private, for-private sector. To meet the Department of Labor's standards of volunteering at a for-profit company, you must meet all their six criteria on Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs.
Social Security Number
All students participating in paid OPT will be required to obtain a Social Security number. Please review our Social Security Numbers page for more information.
Reporting Requirements While on OPT
According to Federal Regulations, students with authorized post-completion Optional Practical Training are required to report accurate information to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Throughout your period of post-completion optional practical training, you must inform the Designated School Official at Carroll University about any changes to the following information within 10 days of the change:
- Residential or mailing address
- Employer name
- Worksite address
- Any interruption of employment
To report any changes in this information to OGE while on OPT, complete and submit the CU. CU Practical Training (OPT) Verification Form which can be requested from your international student advisor.
For more information about OPT, please email your international student advisor to schedule an appointment.