F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)


Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit of F-1 status that allows international students who have completed their degree program to apply for one year of work authorization. Students authorized for OPT are issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by USCIS and are then able to engage in employment that is directly related to the student’s major area of study for the dates specified on the EAD.




Questions regarding applying for OPT, maintaining status while on OPT, and traveling internationally while on OPT should be directed to the international student services office where the student earned their degree.

International students who have earned a degree in a STEM field are eligible to apply for a two year STEM extension of their OPT, however, please note that UW-Madison cannot employ F-1 OPT STEM Extension participants, because UW-Madison does not meet the E-Verify employer requirement. For employment-based immigration options for UW-Madison employment beyond the first year of OPT, please reach out to an IFSS team member and review the other options on the IFSS website.