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What is the OPT Visa?

If you are an F-1 visa holder or applicant and wish to complete practical training in the United States in a field relevant to your studies, you will need to apply for an OPT employment authorization. The OPT provides an F-1 visa holder temporary employment authorization in the USA for a period of up to 12 months.

The OPT consists of separate categories. If your situation fits either of the consequent categories, this would support your eligibility for the OPT. 

  • Pre-completion OPT:

In this category, an F-1 visa holder is eligible for an OPT prior to graduation if:

  • You have been enrolled as a full-time student for a minimum duration of one academic year at a US Government certified academic institution. 
  • With this OPT authorization you are entitled to work part time (max 20 hours per week) during your studies, while the academic semesters are in place. Outside of academic semesters, you are allowed to work full time.

  • Post-completion OPT:

In this category, an F-1 visa holder is eligible for an OPT post graduation if:

  • You have finished your studies as a full-time student from a US Government certified institution. 
  • With this OPT authorization you are entitled to work part time (max 20 hours per week) or full time. 

To be eligible for the OPT there are specific requirements which an applicant must fulfill in order to qualify for this authorization. These requirements are the following:

  • You have been a registered full-time student for a minimum of one academic year at a SEVP-certified academic institution.
  • The OPT is in a relevant field to your full-time study major.

What are the benefits of completing an OPT?  

  • Participating in an OPT allows you to gain invaluable work experience in your chosen field of studies in the USA. 
  • Participating in an OPT at the end of your studies is a great way to extend your stay in the USA after finishing your studies, while gaining valuable experience in an established hospitality organization. 

Restrictions of the OPT to be aware of:

  • If you are studying English as a Second Language, you will not be eligible for the OPT.
  • You will not be eligible to apply for the OPT if you have already used the designated months allotted for OPT.
  • You will not be eligible to apply for the OPT if you have received a prior authorization for a 12 month CPT (Curricular Practical Training at an institution of the same level. 
  • The OPT program category (pre or post completion)

How to apply for an OPT:

  • Submit a request for a recommendation for OPT from your designated school official (DSO).
  • Your DSO will verify your eligibility for the OPT before submitting an official recommendation in SEVIS. 
  • Sign your Form I-20.
  • Complete and submit an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) to the USCIS. (Within 30 days of recommendation.)
  • Make the payment for the Form I-765 fee to the USCIS. (within 30 days of recommendation.)
  • Once USCIS receives your application and payment receipt, they will be able to consider your application and provide you with a decision on your application. 
  • USCIS will provide you with an answer:
    • If it is approved: USCIS will provide you with the EAD and your SEVIS status changes to approved.
    • If it is denied: The OPT application status will be DENIED in SEVIS.
  • You can start your OPT program as soon as you have received the EAD.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

DSO is the abbreviation used for the Designated School Official. This official is responsible for submitting your official recommendation for the OPT to SEVIS.

EAD is the abbreviation for Employment Authorization Document, which is the official document all nonimmigrants and temporary workers will be required to obtain from the USCIS. This document states your permission to work in the United States.

The Form I-20 is the official Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. 

The Form I-765 is the official Application and Document for Employment Authorization.

The Form I-766 is the official Employment Authorization Document, which is presented in card format. This is sometimes referred to as the EAD.

OPT stands for Optional Practical Training. This is a program which grants temporary employment authorization for nonimmigrants residing in the USA under the F-1 visa.

SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is the official government database for all students and exchange visitors. This system maintains records of all nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors and their studies and training, while in the USA. All official information regarding your program is registered in this system by your academic institution.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is the official branch of the U.S. Government which handles the processing of matters related to immigration and various non-immigrant permits.

Looking to study and/or work in the USA?

If you are interested in studying and/or working in the USA, then Miami Hospitality Academy is the perfect solution for you. We will make sure that your visa process is taken care of as well as providing you with a good quality education and an opportunity to work at the same time.

Hospitality Academy is proud to partner with the leading hospitality recruitment company Placement International as well as various US Partner Sponsor Organizations to provide you with stellar J-1 visa services. To start your J-1 visa process, contact us at for more information.

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