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Student Employment & Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training is off-campus paid employment or internships for F-1 students in their major or field of study.

International students are eligible for a total of 12 months of practical training while at Smith, which can be used as:

Optional Practical Training can be granted in various increments of time. However, any OPT which is authorized prior to completion of studies will be deducted from the total 12-month allotment for Postcompletion Practical Training. This means that if you used precompletion OPT during the summer, those months will be deducted from the 12-month total.

You may apply for both types of practical training programs up to 90 days before end of classes or graduation. You can apply for postgraduate OPT up to 60 days after graduation.

Precompletion Practical Training

During the annual summer vacation, provided you intend to continue your full-time studies the following semester. This is for students in their first year, sophomore and junior class standings.

You must have a job offer at the time of application.

Postcompletion Practical Training

After completion of your studies for a period of up to one year. This is for seniors, AMS students and for graduate students who are completing their degree.

No job offer is necessary at the time of application.

Additional STEM Extension

Students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) may apply for an additional 17-month extension during their initial period of postcompletion OPT if they have a new job or an extended contract.

Instructions for STEM Extension

The procedure for applying for STEM extension is similar to the original application of OPT. STEM extension must be received by USCIS before your current OPT expires. You may continue to work up to 180 days while waiting for your new STEM-approved EAD card.

If your current employer is going to extend you, they must be an E-Verify company (check with their Human Resources Office for the E-Verify number) and should give you a new letter of employment which says they are extending your employment until a particular date. If you are going to work for a different employer, then you will need a letter of employment and their E-Verify number so that you can complete the application.

First Step

Use OPT Form I-765, and fill out the additional information requested in item 17, with the E-Verify number of your employer. Send it to the Office for International Students & Scholars with a new letter of employment or extension of the same job with the same employer. We will then issue you a new I-20.

Required Documents

  • Signed new STEM 1-20 (use blue ink)
  • Form I-765 (PDF)
  • $380 check, made out to USCIS
  • Two passport size color photos (2x2 inches)
  • Copy of F-1 entry visa page from passport
  • Copy of I-94 (both sides)
  • Copies of passport front page which has your picture
  • Copy of the F-1 entry visa page from the passport
  • Photocopy of current and all previous EAD cards
  • Copy of your Smith transcript showing the STEM major

Please be sure to attach all papers and forms by a single paperclip to the I-765, which should be on top. Make copies of all documents you submit for travel purposes.

Mail everything to:

Express Mail (any courier service requiring a signature):

USCIS ATTN: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy
121 Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Regular Mail

USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

You will be notified once your petition has been approved (six to eight weeks) by USCIS. They will send an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card directly to your mailing address.

Reporting Responsibilities

You have reporting responsibilities once you have received your new STEM card and are working in a STEM field.

Important: You must validate your employment every six months from the start date of STEM OPT and until the end of the 17-month STEM extension. Please report the date you started working, as well as the name and address of current employer and your current and residential address to the International Students & Scholars Office. We are required by SEVIS to update your record; failure to report will terminate your OPT STEM status.

Please notify the Office for International Students & Scholars, at interstu@smith.edu, within 10 days of any change of the following:

  • Legal name change
  • Residential or mailing address change
  • Employer name change
  • Employer address change
  • Loss of employment

How to Apply

Submit the above documents to the International Students & Scholars Office with copies of all I-20 forms issued to you by Smith and other institutions. Submit your passport, I-94 and a check for $380 made out to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)

We will then issue a new SEVIS I-20, make copies of your passport and other documents, and give you a completed packet to send to:

Express Mail (any courier service requiring a signature)

USCIS ATTN: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy
121 Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Regular Mail

USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

You will be notified once your petition has been approved (six to eight weeks) by USCIS. Then they will send an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card directly to your mailing address.

Important Information

You cannot begin to work under an OPT program until you receive the EAD card. Once you have been approved for postcompletion OPT, you have 90 days from the start date of your OPT to find a job or find a volunteer position in your field, otherwise your OPT will be cancelled. It is your duty to report your new employer and your most current address to USCIS. Please send us the information and we will upgrade your SEVIS record.

Do not leave the United States after graduation, unless you have received the EAD card, have found a job and have a letter employment.

Once you have started working, if you wish to travel outside the United States we will endorse your I-20. Please send your most recent Smith I-20 and a copy of the EAD card to our office for endorsement. We will sign and return the I-20 to you for travel. Remember, you are still under Smith College F-1 visa during your OPT.