Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an opportunity for an F-1 international student to gain temporary, valuable work experience in his or her field of study. This is a chance for you to learn how American businesses function and possibly position yourself for further work prospects!


Types of OPT

  1. Pre-completion OPT can be engaged in while you are studying. Visit your International Student Advisor for more information.
  2. Post-completion OPT comes after you have graduated from GWU. You are permitted to work full-time after graduation for a total of 12 months, provided you apply a semester before graduation.



For students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical) programs, they are granted additional 17 months after the completion of the first 12 months of OPT. Total for STEM programs is 29 months of OPT.


When can I start?

Students must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at GWU for one full academic year before being eligible for OPT. Available both before and after completion of the educational objective, but different rules apply to pre- and post-completion OPT. Visit the Office of International Programs for pertinent information TODAY.


What do I need?

Checklist for Optional Practical Training (OPT) Application

  1. Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (do not forget to sign your form).
  2. Under question 16, write the code: (c) (3) (B) to signify Post Completion OPT.
  3. Filing Fee of $380 in form of a Personal Check or Money Order made payable to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In the note/memo section of Check or Money Order, write OPT Application.
  4. A copy of Form 1-94, Arrival-Departure Record (front and back).
  5. A copy of your EAD (front and back) if applicable.
  6. A copy of your Passport’s Biographical Page showing your picture, name, and date of birth.
  7. A copy of your visa page.
  8. Two (2) identical color photographs of yourself taken within 30 days of filing your application. The photos must have a white to off-white background, be printed on thin paper with a glossy finish, and be unmounted and retouched. Note: The passport-style photos must be 2” by 2”. The photos must be in color with full face, frontal view on a white background. Head heights should measure 1” to 3/8” from top to bottom of chin, and eye height is between 11/8” to 3/8” from bottom of photo. Your head must be bare unless you are wearing a headdress as required by a religious order of which you are a member. Using pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name and Alien Receipt Number on the back of the photo.
  9. Copies of past Form I-20s.
  10. *New Form I-20 to be issued on the day of filing by OIP.



To complete your application you must visit the Office of International Programs (OIP), Tucker Student Center Room 332 and at least 90 days before the semester ends, with copies of documents 1-8 listed above; item #9 will be issued at the meeting. *Please make copies of all original documents and bring them to your meeting with the Immigration Advisor or DSO; also bring the original documents which will be returned to you.


The process will take approximately one hour, so plan for it. You are required to apply in person to sign the new Form I-20. Please call (704) 406-3046 or e-mail tadewale@gardner-webb.edu to schedule an appointment to complete application. The application packet will be mailed by the student to the appropriate USCIS Service Center (address will be provided at the meeting). You must receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before starting any employment.


For more information on OPT check this link.