The University of Iowa

This page provides information about Optional Practical Training (OPT).  Please click on the links below to view information about OPT application processes and requirements.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) 12 Month Application

OPT is temporary employment authorization granted by the Department of Homeland Security to F-1 students. F-1 students may use OPT to participate in employment related to their degree following graduation.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) 24 Month STEM Application

The U.S. government published a new set of rules that became effective on May 10, 2016.  Among the changes include an extended period of OPT STEM up to 24 months instead of 17 months, requirements for a special Training Plan to list learning objectives and expected outcomes, and new responsibilities for employers.  ISSS is in the process of updating this website with the new information.  If your 12-month OPT is ending soon and you are planning to apply for an OPT STEM extension, you should consult an ISSS advisor first because the timing of the application will be crucial during this transition period through the end of May 2016. 

Optional Practical Training FAQ for Employers

An information resource for employers of students who are applying for the 24-month OPT STEM extension.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Reporting Requirement

While on OPT you are still legally required to report certain information to ISSS. Changes to any of the following must be reported within 10 days of certain events.

H-1B Cap-Gap Extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Current regulations allow certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in F-1 status during the period of time when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization would otherwise expire through the start date of their approved H-1B employment period. This is referred to as filling the “cap-gap,” meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the “gap” between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur if F-1 status is not extended for qualifying students.