Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students

Information in this section relates to standard Optional Practical Training (OPT). The following sections describe in detail the requirements for each level of the application process:

The following information is a short description and general criteria to consider before applying for OPT.


OPT is defined in the Federal Regulations as temporary employment directly related to a student's field of study. During OPT, a student remains in F-1 status. The end result of the OPT request process is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS).

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for OPT, the student must:

  • Be in legal F-1 immigration status
  • Be a full-time student for at least one academic year
  • Have U-M approved health insurance

Note: Post-completion OPT applications are typically denied by USCIS if the Level of Education indicated in item #4 on the I-20 is “non-degree.”

Maximum Length

  • The standard OPT period is a cumulative maximum of 12 months.
  • Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month limit at 50%.
  • An F-1 may become eligible for another 12 months of OPT if he/she advances to a higher educational level.

Some students may be eligible for an extension of their OPT based on a STEM degree.