Question: I am having a hard time deciding when to apply for OPT, do I need to have a job first?
Answer: No, you do not need a job offer before applying for OPT. I repeat, you do not need a job offer before applying for OPT.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an F-1 work benefit that authorizes students to work in the U.S. for up to 12-months to gain practical work experience in their field of study. First, to be clear, there are two types of OPT which are Pre-Completion OPT or Post-Completion OPT. If you’re thinking about working in the U.S. after graduation, you must apply for Post-Completion OPT. The good news is, you can apply for OPT without having to worry about having a job offer. This is because regular 12-months of OPT is not tied to any particular employer. This is good as it provides students with some flexibility and a little less pressure to immediately find a job.
But, it’s also important to understand how and when you can apply for OPT. At WashU, we require each student to attend an OPT Workshop before beginning their OPT Application with their OISS Advisor. During this workshop an OISS Advisor provides a comprehensive overview of OPT and the rules you need to know. The workshop is also a great time to ask any specific questions that you still might have about OPT or your future plans.
The OPT filing window for May 2020 graduates opens up on February 17th. If you are graduating soon and still need to attend a workshop, you can find all our upcoming OPT workshops here.
OISS Newsletter Date: 01-31-2020
Written by: Alayna Hutchinson, International Student & Scholar Advisor