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for International Students at SDSU

Optional Practical Training (OPT) 

Learn about eligibility for Pre-Completion and Post-Completion OPT, the OPT application process, and the immigration information you'll need once you're on an approved period of Pre-Completion or Post-Completion OPT.

In addition, the ISC offers several F-1 Employment Authorization Info Sessions each semester, where we discuss the rules for on-campus and off-campus employment/internships. You may watch a recording of our most recent virtual Info Session by visiting the Educational Workshops webpage

[+] What is OPT?
[+] OPT Eligibility
[+] Further Explanation for Graduate Students Considering OPT with Thesis/Comprehensive Exam Options
[+] OPT When to Apply
[+] OPT How to Apply
[+] OPT Information Sessions
[+] Types of OPT Employment
[+] Unemployment 90-Day Rule, Hours, and Approved Vacation
[+] Your Immigration Reporting Responsibilities while on OPT (for Post-Completion OPT only)
[+] Traveling During OPT
[+] Health Insurance
[+] Ending your OPT or F-1 Status

Unpaid Employment/Internships/Volunteer Work on Post-OPT

During Post-completion OPT, you may satisfy employment requirements by doing an unpaid internship or volunteering at least 20 hours per week.

  • In your field of study: If you do participate in an unpaid internship or other type of volunteering, remember that it must be directly related to your major field of study.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act: In addition, make sure the position is within Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act, which contains regulations regarding unpaid or volunteer work.
    • For more information on these regulations,  see the FLSA Fact Sheet (PDF).

OPT Extensions


OPT Info Sessions and Application Review Sessions

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The ISC recommends that students maintain evidence for each job: the position held, duration/dates of that position, employer name and address, job title, contact information for your supervisor or manager, number of hours worked, and a description of the work. For immigration purposes, students must update all changes in their OPT employment on their SEVP Portal Account.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

For more information about working on OPT, see page 17 of this policy guidance document (PDF) from USCIS.