Optional Practical Training

General Information and Requirements

 A job offer is NOT required to be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). You are eligible for a total of twelve months of full-time OPT. While on OPT, the employment may be full-time or part-time, and it may take place at any location in the United States, but it must be directly related to your major field of studies.

You may become eligible for another twelve months of practical training when you change to a higher educational level. 

To be eligible to apply for F-1 optional practical training after completion of studies you must:

  • Have been in lawful full-time student status for one academic year prior to completion of studies.
  • Your application can be submitted up to 90 days before your completion date on your I-20, and up to 60 days after the degree completion date.

Please also note that F-1 students must be in the United States to apply and submit an application for OPT.

How to Apply for OPT:

  • If you are applying for OPT, please access the online OPT Application Portal for document submission.

    Please note that the Portal page below incorrectly displays the title "Graduate Program Application." To all OPT applicants (undergraduates and graduates), please disregard this title. The Portal link is correct, and you will be able to use it to start your OPT Application. 

    To access the OPT Portal: Please sign into your Fordham email, otherwise you will not be able to access the Portal. 

    OPT Application Portal

    You will be prompted to enter pertinent information for your application, send a Certificate of Completion request to your Academic Advisor/Class Dean, and submit the necessary documents for us to review. You will be able to save your application progress and continue the application if you need to finish at a later time.

    OIS advisors will be reviewing and handling these cases as soon as possible. Your application documents must be complete for us to begin action on your case, so please make sure to submit all requested documents in the application portal.

  • Wait for OIS to Review Submitted Documents and Give You Next Steps. 

    Once you submit all of your documents via the OPT Portal and pay the fee, you will receive a message from the application platform via email saying that you have finished the document submission process. Due to volume, please allow 10 business days for an advisor to get back to you with feedback. 

    OIS will notify you via email once your "OPT Application Package" is available online. The OPT Package will include:

    1. Your New I-20 with OPT Recommendation.
    2. A guide for filing Form I-765 online with USCIS. 

    Any additional questions or technical issues regarding the OPT application process can be messaged to ois@fordham.edu.

  • Along with the New I-20 with OPT recommendation, you will receive detailed instructions for filing Form I-765 (OPT application) online with USCIS.

    You must file Form I-765 with USCIS within 30 days of the date OIS recommended the post-completion OPT in SEVIS. 

After Filing Form I-765 with USCIS:

Within one month of your application, a receipt (I-797C, Notice of Action) will arrive at your mailing address. If you entered the OIS address as your mailing address, we will contact you so that you can check the status of your application online.

After You Receive Your Receipt Notice:

Check your OPT Application Case Status Online

An OPT application normally takes about 1-3 months to get approved by USCIS, starting from the date USCIS receives an application. Consequently, OIS encourages students to apply for OPT as early as possible and remain patient during the waiting period.

However, if you have been waiting for over 4 months to receive your card, you may make an E-Request on the USCIS website to check your case status.

Carefully follow our E-Request Tutorial to let USCIS know that your case is outside the normal processing time. Please note that this does not guarantee a response, nor does it expedite the process.

If your case has been pending for over 5 months, please contact OIS at ois@fordham.edu so our office can make a direct inquiry with USCIS.