When should I start applying for OPT jobs?

What is OPT?

OPT stands for Optional Practical Training, which is a type of temporary employment authorization for international students in the United States. It allows international students to gain valuable work experience in their field of study. OPT can be used for up to 12 months during or after completing a degree program.

Do I Qualify for OPT?

To be eligible for OPT, you must be an international student who is currently enrolled in a degree program at an accredited college or university in the US. You must also be in valid F-1 student status, in good academic standing, and be in the US for at least one academic year before you can apply for OPT.

What is the Process for Applying for OPT?

The process for applying for OPT can be broken down into four steps:

  • Step 1: Gather Required Documents. You will need to provide documents such as your I-20, passport, and visa to prove your identity, status, and eligibility for OPT.
  • Step 2: Submit Your OPT Application. You must submit your application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within 30 days of your program’s completion.
  • Step 3: Receive Your OPT Authorization. Once your application has been approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS that will allow you to begin working.
  • Step 4: Begin Your Job Search. Once you have received your EAD, you can begin your job search. You must start your job within 90 days of your EAD being issued.

When Should I Start Applying for OPT Jobs?

Ideally, you should start applying for OPT jobs at least three months before your program completion date. This will give you plenty of time to complete the OPT application process and find a job. However, if you wait until the last minute, you may not have enough time to find a job before your OPT authorization expires.

Related content  Does Belgium have job opportunities?

How to Find OPT Jobs

Finding an OPT job can be a challenge, but there are a few strategies you can use to increase your chances of success.


Networking is one of the most important steps in any job search. Make sure you are connecting with people in your field who can provide you with advice and introduce you to potential employers.

Online Job Boards

Online job boards can be a great resource for finding OPT jobs. Most job boards have filters that allow you to search for jobs that are specifically geared towards international students.

University Resources

Many universities have resources specifically for international students looking for OPT jobs. Check with your university’s career services office to see what resources they offer.

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations can be a great resource for finding OPT jobs. Many organizations have job postings specifically for international students.

Tips for Applying for OPT Jobs

Once you have found OPT jobs that you are interested in, there are a few tips you should keep in mind as you apply.

  • Be Professional: Make sure your resume, cover letter, and other application materials are professional and free of errors.
  • Research the Company: Make sure you research the company and the position to show that you are knowledgeable and prepared.
  • Be Prepared for Interviews: Interviews are your chance to make a good impression. Make sure you are prepared to answer questions about your experience and qualifications.
  • Follow Up: After you have applied, make sure you follow up with the employer. This will show that you are serious about the position and give you an opportunity to answer any questions they may have.


Applying for OPT jobs can be a challenging process, but with the right preparation and resources, you can increase your chances of finding the perfect job. Make sure you start applying for OPT jobs at least three months before your program completion date and use effective job search strategies to find the right job for you.