Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a work authorization that allows F-1 international students to gain experience in their field of study. Students may apply for post-completion OPT during their final semester.

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Optional Practical Training Workshop

Graduating at the end of the semester? Want to work in the US after graduation? These workshops will provide an overview of the OPT application process and answer any questions you might have. All sessions will cover the same material. Click here to register.

Employment Extensions

Optional Practical Training/STEM

Students may seek a 24-month OPT extension. The application must include the employer name as listed in E-Verify, along with the E-Verify Company Identification Number, or a valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number. Students who file their STEM extension applications with USCIS on time, may continue working while their applications are pending for 180 days or the date of the decision, whichever date is earlier. This interim extension minimizes disruption in the student’s employment and also ensures that employers will conduct the necessary employment eligibility re-verification.

After being granted the 24-month STEM extension:
The student must report to his or her designated school official by e-mail, every six months. In addition student must report within 10 days of changes in any of the items below:

  • Legal name
  • Residential, mailing, and e-mail address
  • Job title or position
  • Employer name and address
  • Supervisor name and contact information
  • Employment start-date and end-date

The requirement to report continues if the student’s 24-month STEM extension is extended further by the automatic cap-gap extension.

Optional Practical Training–Cap-Gap

The period of time when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expire through the start date of their approved H-1B employment period is known as the “Cap-Gap”.

Cap-Gap occurs because an employer may not file, and USCIS may not accept, an H-1B petition submitted more than six months in advance of the date of actual need for the beneficiary’s services or training. As a result, the earliest date that an employer can file an H-1B cap-subject petition is April 1 for the following fiscal year, starting October 1. If USCIS approves the H-1B petition and the accompanying change of status request, the earliest date that the student may start the approved H-1B employment is October 1.

Cap-Gap Extensions

Current regulations allow certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status during the cap-gap period. This is referred to as filling the “cap-gap,” meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the “gap” between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students.

Eligibility for an Extension
H-1B petitions that are timely filed, on behalf of an eligible F-1 student, that request a change of status to H-1B on October 1 qualify for a cap-gap extension. Once a timely filing has been made, requesting a change of status to H-1B on October 1, the automatic cap-gap extension will begin and will continue until the H-1B petition adjudication process has been completed. If the student’s H-1B petition is selected and approved, the student’s extension will continue through September 30. If the student’s H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn, revoked, or is not selected, the student will have the standard 60-day grace period from the date of the rejection notice or their program end date, whichever is later, to prepare for and depart the United States.

Students are strongly encouraged to stay in close communication with their petitioning employer during the cap-gap extension period for status updates on the H-1B petition processing.

We’re here to help

Office of International Students and Scholars
Office Hours:

Monday – Friday
8:30am – 4:30pm Eastern Time

International Center, 3rd FL
37 Lower College Road
Kingston, RI, 02881
Phone: 401.874.2395

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