International Student Affairs

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) is a type of work authorization benefit available to most F-1 students for a total of 12 months during or after completion of studies. You are not required to participate in practical training. If you choose to participate, you may do so for some or all of the 12 months. Most students choose to take advantage of OPT after graduation.

Students are eligible to apply for post-completion practical training no earlier than 90 days before the last day of their graduating semester and no later than two weeks before the last day of their graduating semester. Students are strongly encouraged to plan ahead and apply early. Waiting until the end of the application period may delay or impede the application process.

The following are some guidelines for applying for optional practical training:


  • Students must have F-1 visa status and maintain that status
  • Students must have completed one academic year of studies
  • Training must be directly related to the student's area of study and be equal to a student's educational level

How to Apply

  • Students must attend an OPT workshop. Please call the Office of International Student Affairs at 617-824-7858 to schedule an OPT workshop slot now, as space is limited.
  • The OPT application filed by mail for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) from the USCIS. Students may not work until they have this document.
  • Get a new I-20 with OPT authorization recommendation
  • Pay fee to the USCIS in the form of a money order

Travel restrictions may apply while your OPT application is pending.

After Authorization

You must be granted authorization from the Office of International Student Affairs and receive a Social Security number before you can begin your Optional Practical Training. Learn more about applying for a Social Security number »

To learn more about the current OPT process or to reserve a spot in the OPT workshop, contact International Student Affairs at 617-824-7858.

Health Insurance Information for International Alumni During the Period of F-1 Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Emerson neither sponsors nor endorses health insurance plans for domestic or international alumni, including those alumni that choose to engage in an F-1 post –completion OPT experience. Nor do we attempt to assess or recommend any particular health insurance plans since our alumni have varying needs and priorities and a plan that is well suited for one person may be ill suited for others. However, we recognize that sorting through different plans can be challenging for some individuals and therefore recommend that you consider the following guidance before selecting a plan:

  • Carefully review and fully understand the benefits and costs associated with the plan.

  • In particular, pay close attention to enrollment period restrictions, geographic coverage restrictions, periods of eligibility, insurance co-pays and deductibles, and exclusions as they typically vary from plan to plan.

  • If you have any policy coverage questions, contact the health insurance companies whose policies you are considering to ask those questions.