You are here

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (commonly referred to as "OPT") is a benefit of your F-1 status that allows off-campus employment for the purpose of gaining hands-on experience working in your major in the US. OPT is not a diffferent type of visa. You can think of your OPT period as an extension of your F-1 status. Standard Post-Completion OPT takes place after you graduate from Bentley, however you must continue to maintain valid F-1 status during your approved OPT period. The F-1 regulations are slightly different for students on OPT. You can read more about them on the OPT Acknowledgement Form (located in the application documents at the link below). OPT requires a somewhat lengthy and detailed application process.To request Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment authorization, you will need to submit an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). 


Click HERE for detailed instructions regarding applying for Standard Post-Completion OPT. 


Optional Practical Training Blackboard Course

If you are unable to attend an OPT workshop, you must complete the online OPT Blackboard Course before you schedule an OPT Intake Appointment with CISS to apply for OPT. To access the OPT Blackboard Course, email with the subject "OPT Course Enrollment". Include your name and Bentley ID number in the body of the email, and your intention to enroll in the course. A staff member will then invite you to the Blackboard Course. If you did attend an OPT workshop, but still want more informaiton about OPT, you can also enroll in the course. 


Updating your OPT Employer

Students on OPT must update the CISS as soon as they recieve employment or their employer information changes. Click HERE to enter your OPT Employer Information.


STEM Extension OPT

Certain F-1 international students are eligible for a 24-month extension of their standard, Post-Completion OPT work authorzation, allowing them to apply for a “STEM OPT Extension.” Eligibile STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors correspond to specific ‘CIP codes’ issued by the U.S. government.

  The following is a list of STEM eligible majors here at Bentley:

Undegraduate Degrees

Actuarial Science 
Computer Information Systems 

Mathematical Science


Information Systems Audit and Control

Graduate Degrees
Human Factors in Information Design
Information Technology

Business Analytics


Marketing Analytics


For more information about STEM OPT Extension, click here.


EAD card 

Your EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card is what is granted to you after being approved for OPT. It is very important that you review the EAD card for correct dates and other information. Contact the CISS immediately if your EAD card is lost, damaged, or stolen.

Click HERE for more information about what to do if you lose your EAD card.


Traveling while your OPT is Pending

You must to be very cautious if you are traveling while your OPT is pending. Technically, if you return to the U.S. and the application is still pending, you may re-enter to search for employment. To return while your OPT is pending, make sure you have:

1)A valid passport with unexpired F-1 visa stamp

2) Form I-20, signed for travel within the past 6 months  (NOTE: this is different from when you are actively enrolled in a program on F-1 status, during which time  signatures are valid for an entire year)

3)I-797c Notice of Action Receipt from USCIS  or EAD Card, depending on whether your OPT has been approved or is still pending

4)Employment Offer (recommended) (NOTE: If you already have an employment offer, It is best to get a letter from your employer before you leave)


If you have issues re-entering at the port of entry, you can refer to the following response regarding travel during pending OPT from Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

Travel while OPT is pending:

"Yes, but traveling during this time should be undertaken with caution. USCIS may send you a request for evidence while you are away, however, so you would want to make sure you have provided a correct U.S. address both to your DSO and on the application and would be able to send in requested documents. Also, if USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States. Like a request for further information, USCIS can only send the EAD to your U.S. address."






Traveling on Approved OPT (Once EAD card has been received)

Generally, an F-1 student on Post-Completion OPT may travel outside the U.S. temporarily and return to resume F-1 status (and employment) for the remainder of the authorized OPT period on your EAD card.

When returning to the U.S. after travel, you will need to present at the Port of Entry:

1) A valid passport with an unexpired F-1 visa stamp

2) OPT or STEM OPT Form I-20 with a travel signature on page two from the last six months

3) Unexpired EAD card

4) Proof of employment (and/or offer letter) – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

*Please keep in mind that the 90 day unemployment limit still applies. If you are traveling for business or a temporary vacation while hired by a company, travel outside of the U.S. will not count towards the 90 day limit. However, travel while not employed will still count towards your 90 days, even if spent outside of the U.S. Always remember to update us with any change in your employment HERE.


Renewing your visa on OPT

To renew your visa on OPT you should schedule a visa appointment as usual and provide all of the original documentation (check consulate requirements) for F-1 visas. In addition to the typical documents, be sure to carry the following additional documents:

Proof of Employment (job offer letter or verification of employment letter from your current employer)

I-20 with current job information and travel signature no more than 6 months old

Current, valid EAD card

You can expect the visa interview to be similar to past interviews. The officer will want to know about your goals in the U.S. and your intent to return home after completing those goals. The difference is that you will still need to answer these questions in such a way that you show your goals in the U.S. to be in line with a student visa – that they are ultimately academic in nature.  You’ll need to make it clear to the official interviewing you that after you complete your academic goals, you still intend to return home.