Thank you for your question.
You can certainly take a short vacation break, graduate and then
complete your OPT training. However, you would need to apply for the
OPT BEFORE you complete your classes and graduate or you would not be
eligible for it, and you cannot begin your OPT training more than 60
days after graduation.
University of North Carolina-- International Student and Scholar Services
"Applications for OPT must be RECEIVED by USCIS [US Citizenship and
Immigration Services] PRIOR to a student's completion of studies
Optional Practical Training
"For post-completion OPT, the earliest you may apply is 120 days (4
months) prior to the completion of studies.* YOU MUST APPLY FOR
POST-COMPLETION OPT PRIOR TO YOUR DATE OF COMPLETION OF STUDIES OR YOU
WILL FORFIT YOUR ELEIGIBILTY."
Despite Dartmouth's unfortunately poor spelling skills, the page is
true in intent and you will NOT be able to apply for OPT after your
In fact, "completion of studies" does not mean a graduation date, but
it does mean the end of your actual schooling, such as your last exam.
"OPT regulations clearly stipulate that "completion of studies" is the
actual date that you complete all requirements for a program of study
(i.e. the date of your final exams, defense of thesis or
dissertation). "Completion of studies" is NOT considered to be the
date of graduation ceremonies."
You will need to verify your eligibility and graduation date on your application.
Boston University-- Applying for Optional Practical Training
"Proof of Expected Graduation - If you are applying for OPT to begin
after you have completed your program, you must be registered for
graduation in the university computer system, OR provide a letter from
your academic department verifying the date you are expected to
complete your program."
You will also not want to take a vacation anywhere outside the United
States at this time, because you might not be let back in.
"Please note, travel outside the U.S. before you receive your EAD
[Employment Authorization Document] and/or begin your employment is
not hightly recommended, as re-entry under these circumstances is at
the discretion of the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officer at
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
"Please remember that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
officer at the Port of Entry (POE) decides whether or not
nonimmigrants are admitted to the United States. This decision is
based upon the facts and circumstances presented at the time you apply
to enter. SEVP cannot guarantee that you will be admitted or
readmitted to the United States."
You do not have to have just been taking courses, but you must be in
status (i.e. enrolled in school) in order to apply for OPT. If you are
on a sabbatical/approved leave/research break, that is all fine and
you are still eligible for OPT as long as your college considers you
to be in status and enrolled. After graduation, the F1 expires in 60
days. So, if you waited to apply until right before you graduated
(since you cannot wait until after you graduate), you would only have
a little more than a 60-day window for that application to be eligible
for approval. This would not work because it may take up to 90 days
to reach a decision in your case.
"It may take up to 90 days to reach a decision on your case. If your
application takes longer than 90 days from the date on your official
receipt notice, contact the ISSO immediately."
Finally, your start date can be no later than 60 days after
graduation, and if you apply 120 days before graduation, you must
begin your OPT training the day after graduation.
Salve International Handbook
"INS will not allow you to file for OPT earlier than 120 days BEFORE
your 12-month period of OPT begins. You can apply for OPT as early as
120 days BEFORE your graduation date, and if you choose to do so, this
means your start date will have to be the day after graduation. You
also must understand that the 12-month period of OPT can begin no
later than 60 days AFTER graduation - the length of time F-1 students
may remain in the U.S. after they graduate."
Arizona State University-- OPT
"It is highly recommended to apply for OPT 90-100 days prior to the
completion date to maximize 12 months. If you are planning to start
OPT after the completion date, please contact the ISO for advisement."
f1 apply opt graduation
f1 visa expires 60 days
f1 opt apply after graduation
If you need any additional information, let me know and I'll be glad to assist you.
Clarification of Answer by
15 Nov 2006 06:44 PST
It seems that your advisor is correct. Even in cases where people
have gone off to do fieldwork or study in their home countries, they
have been denied OPT. I'm not sure why this would be the case, but it
First, if he is saying that you need 12 months of school, he is wrong
because you only need 9 months (which makes sense because the school
year is 9 months, not 12).
At first, I thought it might just be a question of semantics. From the
Goldey-Beacom College website:
"Must be full time for one full academic year (9 months) at GBC before
they can engage in curricular practical training."
That could be interpreted as one year total, or it could be
interpreted, as your advisor has, to mean one full year prior to
At first when I read your clarification, I did not believe that he was
justified in denying you the opportunity of OPT, because I have seen
nothing that says that schooling must be directly before application.
It seems that if your school accepted that you took a term off and
accepted you back, it shouldn't count against you. However, now I
have found this on Mississippi State's website:
Mississippi State-- OPT
"Please Note: Students who spend the last semester outside of the US
and expect to return to apply for OPT will not be eligible
unless they were in an approved study abroad program earning credit.
Graduate students who are carrying out field work in
their last semester before applying for OPT may not be eligible."
This leads me to believe that there is a clause in the OPT
requirements that schoolwork must be completed on the campus. Even in
the above cases, in which a person is carrying out field work related
to his or her studies, he or she would not be able to apply. This
doesn't seem fair but it might just be the way things work.
Finally, this pretty much puts the matter to rest:
Texas Tech University
"Applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT)"
"A student must have been in F-1 status for at least 9 consecutive
months to be eligible for OPT. In certain circumstances, time spent in
full-time study in another immigration status may count toward
satisfaction of the 9-month rule."
I suggest that you contact the USCIS themselves and confirm that this
is correct. They might have changed regulations. Here are their
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
You may be able to write an email and get some direction on who can
help you through email if calling is too expensive.
"E-Mail comments to USCIS may be made at the following email address:
If you would like to provide feedback on the USCIS.gov website, please
email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note the following:
Information about specific cases should not be sent to this address, and
Although every e-mail message will be read within two business
days, individual responses may not be sent."
USCIS Contact Us
Now, if they say that he is wrong in the matter, it is truly an
authoritarian source that he cannot argue with!
Good luck and I hope you get to have your training. Thank you for your question.
f1 opt 9 months directly before applying
f1 opt 9 months studying abroad