Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to your major field of study. If you want to work off-campus as an F-1 student, one way to do so is to be approved for OPT. You cannot begin work on OPT until you receive your approval in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and it is within the dates listed on your EAD.

The information contained on this page is for general information purposes only. Due to frequent government updates, NYU OGS may make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on this page at any time without prior notice.

Please note, these directions are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services ultimately provides the decision on your OPT application. It is your responsibility, as the OPT applicant, to ensure that your OPT application is accurate and complete before you submit it to the US government. Incomplete applications could result in a delay in processing time or denial. NYU in no event shall be held liable for any delay, denial, or mistake on your OPT application.

Who Can Apply

  • You do NOT need to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT. 
  • You must have been a full-time student for at least one academic year in the US. **Enrollment at ELI or another English language school is NOT considered as part of the one academic year requirement.
  • You must currently be in F-1 status.
  • You must be in good academic standing and be making normal progress toward finishing your degree.
  • You must not have used more than 12 months of OPT in the past at your current degree level.
  • If you complete your academic program and travel internationally BEFORE applying for OPT, the OGS is not able to provide you with an OPT recommended I-20 (a necessary part of your OPT application).
  • If you are finished with your academic program, you can still apply for OPT as long as the government receives your application within 60 days of the date you finished your studies at NYU AND you have not left the US since completing your program.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are getting your degree at an NYU site outside of New York, you are generally not eligible for OPT. Please contact us if you have any questions about your OPT eligibility.

How Long Your OPT Lasts

You can get a maximum of 12 months of OPT for each degree level you complete. If you are studying within certain fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), you may be eligible for a STEM OPT extension.

Students on post-completion OPT must report your job information within 90 days of being on OPT. If you don't report your employment or find a job within that time, your OPT will automatically end.

When Can You Use OPT

You can use your OPT:
  • before you finish your studies (this is called Pre-Completion OPT)
  • after you finish your studies (this is called Post-Completion OPT)
  • or a combination of the two, as long as the total amount of OPT does not exceed 12 months.

Please note, if you apply for and are approved for Pre-Completion OPT, any time you are approved for (regardless of whether you actually find a job) deducts from the total 12 months of OPT you have at your current degree level. If you get approved for Pre-Completion OPT and don’t use it, it still deducts, so be prudent and intentional.

Pre-Completion OPT that is 20 hours or less per week will be deducted at half the rate. For example, if you work four months for 20 hours or less per week for Pre-Completion OPT, you would have two months deducted from your 12 month total. Therefore, you would then have ten months of OPT to use before or after graduation.  

How Long Does It Take to Get Approved

It takes around 4-6 months to get approved for OPT so please plan ahead. It takes this long because:

1. Your academic department signs off on a request form (1-2 weeks).

2. The OGS prepares your new I-20 (up to 1 week).

3. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) evaluates your application (up to 5 months).

How to Apply

OPT and Travel Planning

Travel outside the U.S.

Travel before your program end date is the same as it has been: you must have all documents as listed on our documents to carry page.

If you want to travel after your program end date, you need all the documents as listed on our alumni documents to carry page.

You can also view this YouTube video to review what documents you need to have with you while traveling on post-completion OPT.