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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is F-1 Optional Practical Training?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in your degree program work in your major field (not your minor).  OPT is authorized by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Authorization for OPT status can take 2 to 3 months.

What is the maximum amount of time you can be an F1-OPT?
The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level plus:

  • a possible H-1B cap gap extension
  • or a 17 month extension for those who qualify.

Must I use all of the available 12 months?
You may use some or all of the available 12 months of practical training during your course of study or save the full twelve months to use after you graduate.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for F-1 Optional Practical Training?
To be eligible to apply for OPT, you must:

  • have been a full time enrolled student in the U.S. for at least one academic year by the requested start date of your OPT
  • and be in F-1 status when you apply.

How long does it take to get authorization for OPT and when should I apply?
Authorization for Optional Practical Training (OPT) is granted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and can take 2 - 3 months to obtain. Therefore, it is important that you apply 3 months before the date you wish to start working.

Can I extend my Optional Practical Training (OPT) after the 12 months?
Yes, there are two types of extensions available:

  • a 17 month extension for those in certain fields
  • or an “H1B Cap Gap Extension”

What is the 17 month Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
The "STEM Extension" allows F-1 students on OPT who have received a degree in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, to apply for a one time 17-month extension of their regular 12 month OPT period.

What are the criteria for the 17 month extension?

  • The employer must be enrolled in the "E-Verify" program, which Clarkson is a member of.
  • You must have graduated in and be working in one of the fields listed as science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields
  •  Your OPT must be in good standing

What is "E-Verify"?
E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration.  E-Verify provide an automated link to federal databases to help employers determine employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers.