Effective August 29, 2011, a one-time administrative fee of $200 will be charged to students who apply for 12-month Optional Practical Training (OPT). Please make the check out to “University of Bridgeport.” This must be paid at the time of OPT processing.
How to Begin Your OPT Application
Step 2. Check your eligibility using the directions from the video and FAQs.
Review eligibility and all forms with samples provided in the table at the bottom of this page. Refer to the videos for detailed instructions.
After filling out the forms according to the USCIS instructions, samples and video instructions, bring completed forms for a final review. Once the documents are completely filled out, we can schedule an appointment for OPT recommendation. Our office is at G-133 of the Wahlstrom Library. (Note: All documents must be complete to receive an appointment. No same day appointments.)
Step 4. Attend OPT Appointment at the International Center for Students and Scholars
Come to your scheduled appointment on time with the reviewed documents. You will receive a form I-20 recommended for OPT along with a packet of important information for mailing your OPT application.
Step 5. Send in your application by mail
Send your application by post mail and wait for processing! (Tip: Make copies of everything you send and use tracking)
Optional Practical Training is designed to provide you with an opportunity to gain actual employment experience in your current major field of study for a maximum of one year, per higher degree level (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate), during your F-1 status. The purpose is to “round off” or complement your academic work.
- You must have been lawfully enrolled for at least one full academic year and are maintaining valid F-1 status
- Must submit your application in a timely fashion (see next section)
- Students enrolled in English language training programs are not eligible for practical training
- Undergraduate student must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher and a graduate student with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
- You don’t need a job to apply for OPT. Once you get a job, the work must be directly related to your current major field of study. The work may occur anywhere in the United States
You must also be able to affirm and satisfy ALL of the items below:
- I have filed for graduation
- I have a zero balance with the University Bursar
- I have no holds on my student account
- I will apply for this application in person
- You can apply 90 days PRIOR to but no later than 60 days AFTER your program end date (Your application must be RECEIVED by immigration before you reach the 60-day grace period)
- USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days after the OPT I-20 is issued
- You can choose any date after your program end date but before the end date of your 60-day grace period
- You must complete your OPT within a 14-month period following your program end date
- Samples (these samples are given based on May 7, 2011 as an program end date):
05/08/2011 – 05/07/2012 (example 1 with early start date)
07/05/2011 – 07/04/2012 (example 2 with later start date)
- Still unsure about these samples? View the online OPT Information Session for a detailed explanation under our resources page
- If you are currently on CPT and wish to continue working with no interruptions, you should (1) request a start date immediately following your program end date and (2) apply for OPT early
- No, your passport must be valid and must have a validity period of at least 6 months prior to filing for OPT
- If your passport is valid for less than 6 months, please apply at your consulate for a renewal before applying for OPT (Note: If you are in the process of applying, retain the receipt notice that the passport is being processed)
Fill Out and Print OPT Documents for Appointment
Do not forget to bring the following documents to the International Center for Students and Scholars for review!
Remaining Documents to Prepare
- Two passport style color photos with your name, date of birth and SEVIS ID printed in a pencil on the back; See examples here
- $200 administrative fee, make a check or money order payable to “University of Bridgeport”
- $410 filing fee, make a check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. Date on check must be current!! (check + copy). | Check Sample (PDF)
- Copy of ALL I-20 forms (page 1 and 2, not instruction page)
- Copy of I-94 card (front and back) if you have a paper I-94 card. Stamp must be clearly legible. Electronic I-94 is available here.
- Copy of passport: information page with expiration date and stamp of first entry into the US in F status
- Copy of F-1 visa(s), and first and most recent entry stamp in F-1 status. If you have other entries in F-1 status, please include the entry stamps as well.
- Copy of form I-797 (approval notice for change of status) if you had a change of status to F-1