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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an extension of F-1 student status that allows students (alumni) to work in the U.S. in order to gain practical experience directly related to their field of study. OPT is recommended by the Immigration Services Office (ISO) and approved by issuance of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In many cases, graduates of the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass Chan are eligible for a total of 36 months of OPT which includes an initial 12 months of post-completion OPT and an additional 24 months of STEM OPT - if the alumnus works with a qualified E-Verify employer.

Note: Once an F-1 student completes their academic program at UMass Chan, they must have a valid OPT EAD to continue their research at UMass Chan (i.e. at the postdoc level). Departments should inform the ISO as soon as possible if they anticipate moving a UMass Chan graduate student to a postdoc position upon completion of the PhD. The processing time for OPT applications varies and may take several months. As of April 3, 2023, OPT and STEM OPT applications may be expedited for an additional fee. Read the full USCIS announcement

The following documents provide specific guidance on applying for OPT. Students should review this information then contact the ISO when they are ready to apply for OPT, to obtain access to the OPT eForm.*

F-1 Optional Practical Training Overview
OPT Application Checklist & Instructions
P.I. Recommendation Form for F-1 OPT

*UMass Chan alumni on a period of approved OPT are still considered to be under UMass Chan F-1 student visa sponsorship for the duration of the OPT. Students and alumni applying for OPT should carefully review the OPT acknowledgement form provided as part of the OPT eForm submission process to understand how to maintain F-1 status while on OPT.

Report OPT Employment STEM Extension - H1B "Cap-Gap"