ECS does not process OPT or CPT. Please contact International Student and Scholar Services for F-1 work authorization application.

What is OPT?

F-1 post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to be employed in the United States after completion of studies. However, OPT applicants are only allowed a total of 90 days unemployment during their initial 12-month OPT period.

International Student and Scholars Services (ISSS) holds workshops and provides individual advising about F-1 work authorization.

 Visit ISSS Website for OPT Workshops and Requests

OPT Application Process Simplified

person writing on a piece of paper

  1. Plan your date to start application via ISSS. You may apply up to 90 days before your program end date but no later than 60 days after your program end date.
  2. No Job Offer Letter needed from your employer to start the OPT application.
  3. Submit an OPT I-20 request e-form through iSTART.
  4. Submit your application to USCIS after receiving OPT I-20.
  5. Report your employment to ISSS after you are officially employed.

Important Things to Keep in Mind in Your Job Search

No Job Offer Needed
You do not need to wait until you have a job offer to apply. Follow the suggested timeline from ISSS to apply before you are too late!

Relevance to Your Study
Your job is required to be relevant to your field of study. Make sure you are applying to jobs with relevant knowledge and skills.

You will want to communicate your status and timeline with employers transparently before they make a hiring decision.

Strategies to Maximize your Chance

International Friendly Company List

Learn about companies and organizations that have hired Engineering Illinois international students on the OPT.

Learn More

General Recruiting Tips

Get advice on how to communicate with employers about your status and discover your strengths as internationals.

Learn More