Optional Practical Training

International students in the U.S. in valid F-1 immigration status can apply for temporary permission to work off-campus in optional practical training (OPT) status.

OPT employment must be directly related to your degree. You are eligible for 12 months of OPT for each level of higher education completed.

You can complete OPT before graduation (called Pre-Completion OPT) and after you graduate (called Post-Completion OPT).

You must apply for OPT through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon approval, you will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card which will list your dates of employment authorization.

How to Apply for OPT

The first step is to complete the OPT Request Form (PDF) and work with International Student and Scholar Services.

Then you can apply for OPT through USCIS.

It is highly recommended to meet with an International Advisor to review your OPT application before submitting.

Reporting Requirements While on OPT

Students on OPT are required to send the OPT Reporting Form (PDF) to ISSS by email at is@winona.edu for the following reasons: 

  • You change your address– you must report this within 10 days of moving
  • Changes in employment within 10 days of leaving a position or starting a new position
  • If you decide to end your OPT employment before the end date on your EAD card 
  • If your visa status changes while on OPT 
  • Future international travel – you will need a travel signature to reenter the U.S. 

STEM OPT Extension

There is a 24-month STEM extension of post-completion OPT for those F-1 non-immigrant students with certain degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).

To be eligible for a STEM Extension, you must:

  • Already be approved for standard post-completion OPT
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field included on the U.S. government’s list of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields within the last 10 years
  • Be employed in a paid job directly related to your field of study
  • Have a job or job offer from an employer who is enrolled in the U.S. government’s e-Verify program

OPT STEM Extension is a separate application to USCIS with additional requirements for both you and your employer.

Applications for the STEM OPT extension can be completed up to 90 days before the end of OPT until the last day of your OPT. You will need to work with International Student and Scholar Services to apply for the STEM OPT extension.

Contact International Student & Scholar Services
International Student & Scholar Services Office

Maxwell 130
175 West Mark Street
Winona, MN 55987

Phone: 1.507.457.5303
Fax: 1.507.457.2474

Email ISSS
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WeChat: @WSU International

WhatsApp: 1.507.312.3984

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