Life After Emory & Henry College

F-1 students must take action to maintain legal status or depart the United States after completing your program of study.

Before you complete your program of study, be sure to contact the Office of International Education and Career Services to discuss your plans after leaving Emory & Henry.

Once you complete your program of study and any authorized period of practical training, F students have 60 days after completion of your program (the program end date on your Form I-20) to leave the United States. If you wish to extend your stay in the United States, talk with your DSO to learn more about doing one of the following:
  • Transfer to another school.
  • Change your education level (e.g. bachelor’s to master’s).
  • Apply to change status to another visa status (e.g. H-1B-temporary worker; O-extraordinary ability in science, art or business; P-athlete).
  • Apply for Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT - What is Optional Practical Training?

Optional practical training is one type of work permission available for eligible F-1 students. It allows students to get real-world work experience related to their field of study.

While a Designated School Official (DSO) recommends OPT in SEVIS, it is the student who must apply for the work permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The student must not begin working before the start date on the EAD.

OPT Types

There are three general types of OPT:

For students engaged in post-secondary schools or at conservatories. Twelve months of Regular OPT is available for each higher level of study. (For example, a student may have 12 months for a bachelor’s degree and another 12 months for a master’s degree).

  • Pre-Completion OPT: Any portion of OPT used before the student’s Program End Date. It may be part-time or full-time.
  • Post-Completion OPTAny portion of OPT used after the student’s Program End Date. It must be full-time.

24-month Extension of OPT (STEM OPT): Used after regular OPT is completed. Only for students who majored in DHS-approved Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degrees.

Cap-Gap OPT ExtensionFor students whose prospective employers filed a qualifying H-1B-cap subject petition.

OPT Eligibility

A student is eligible for OPT if:

  • The student has been a full-time student for one academic year in an SEVP-certified:
    • College
    • University
    • Conservatory
    • Seminary
  • The student is not studying English as a Second Language.
  • The student’s proposed employment relates to the student’s major area of study.
  • The student has not used all of the practical training available at the current level of study.
  • The student has not been authorized for 12 months or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Note: Full-time CPT at a previous school at the same program level counts toward the 12-month total. CPT at another program level does not count toward the 12-month total.

Post-Completion OPT Application Guidelines

Application Timeline

OPT applications may be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing as early as (but no earlier than) 90 days before a student’s program completion date. Please note that USCIS requires approximately 3 months to approve an OPT application. It is highly recommended that students submit their OPT application to the E&H Office of International Education at least 3 months before their requested OPT start date.

All documents listed in the OPT Application Checklist must be submitted to the OIE to request an OPT I-20 before an OPT application can be submitted to USCIS for processing. OIE requires 5 business days to issue an OPT I-20.

You must mail the following documents within 30 days of the DSO requesting OPT.  Here is the form I-765 -
If you are mailing your application to USCIS, you must submit: 
  • Completed I-765 form
  • Check made out to US Homeland Security for $380
  • The new I-20 form
  • A copy of Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record 
  • A copy of a government-issued identity document, such as a passport showing your picture, name, and date of birth; 
  • You must submit two identical color photographs of yourself taken within 30 days of filing your application. Using pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name and Alien Receipt Number on the back of the photo.
When you receive your EAD - employment authorization document card - you can then begin working.
You must contact your DSO to let them know where you are working. You have 14 months of post-completion OPT. 
If you meet the requirements, you can apply for a STEM 24 month extension following your post-completion 12 month employment.  You must apply for this extension before the end date on your EAD.
At all stages, you MUST keep the E&H DSO updated on your employment as long as you have an F-1 visa.

Key Dates

You must be mindful of several key dates for OPT in SEVIS.