Gain Applicable Experience

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you the opportunity to apply your new knowledge and skills on-the-job, off campus, in your chosen subject. You can work in a full-time salaried position for up to one year on your F-1 (student) visa.

If you are enrolled for a full academic year (30 weeks of instructional time, 3 quarters, 9 months) and complete a certificate or diploma program, you may be eligible to apply for a benefit called Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon successful completion of your program. English language programs are not eligible for OPT.

An F-1 student who has successfully completed an academic year, as well as a certificate or diploma program through UCR-IEP, can add valuable U.S. work experience through OPT.

The benefits of OPT include:

  • Acquiring skill sets vital to your career path
  • Ability to enhance your resume/curriculum vitae
  • Continuing to use and refine your English skills
  • Seeking full-time employment at a company in your field of study
  • Enjoying financial rewards
  • Networking with local employers and professionals
  • Working anywhere in the U.S.
  • Enriching future academic pursuits in graduate or professional schools (e.g., MBA)

OPT is your opportunity to work in a full-time salaried position for up to one year on your F-1 (student) visa.

OPT Application Process

UCR University Extension does not grant work authorization. OPT is only granted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

OPT workshops are regularly offered by the IEP Immigration Advising staff each quarter. You will learn about:

  • Application procedures
  • Deadlines
  • USCIS requirements while on OPT

You should attend a workshop several months before your expected completion date. You will need to plan to apply for OPT early in your final quarter of academic study.

Working in the U.S. on OPT

Students can expand and enhance their experience in the U.S. by applying for, and being approved for, OPT. If approved by USCIS for OPT, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. It's important you do not lose or damage your EAD card. You must keep it with you and you must be able to show it to your employer and to the Social Security Office for the duration of your OPT period.

Interested in learning more about OPT? Attend a workshop or contact the UCR IEP Immigration Advising office.

Jaime Roque Martin was an Engineering Intern for the County of Riverside. He worked as part of the Office of Foreign Trade of the Economic Development Agency. He helped develop and execute innovative international trades, investment policies, and promotion strategies in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. industry, and promote trade and investment. He is now doing his OPT with Fireblast Global, a manufacturer of advanced live fire training simulators, as a Process Improvement Engineer.
Alberto Calomarde was a Communications Intern for HypoLending Bank, which provided a full range of loan products for purchase and refinance. He was responsible for market analysis, social media, video production for programming, and editing. He is currently doing his OPT as both a Communications Manager for a Chartered Financial Consultant, as well as a Volunteer Associate for SCORE Mentors, an organization that connects new businesses with experienced business owners for advice and guidance.