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Contact Information
International Programs
Connie Ruhl-Smith, Director

Lincoln Hall 206
1200 S. Jay St.
Aberdeen, S.D. 57401
Phone: 605-626-7802
Email: Stacey Schmidt
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Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training
Optional practical training is available:
• During your annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session as long as you are currently enrolled and intend to register for the next semester.

• While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours per week, after completion of all course requirements for the degree excluding thesis or equivalent.


• After completion of your course of study.
Who can apply?
To be eligible to apply for practical training, you must have maintained lawful F-1 student status for at least 9 months.


Should I apply for practical training?
Only 12 months of optional practical training are available during your U.S. studies, so you must carefully consider when you want to take it. For example, if you work full-time during three summers, then you will only be eligible for 3 months when you graduate. You can apply for part of your practical training after one degree and part after another. For example, you could apply for 6 months of practical training following your bachelor's and another 6 months following your Master's, but the total amount of time cannot be more than 12 months.
When can I apply?
You must submit an application Student Affairs before you begin your practical training. If you are applying for practical training after completion of your course of study, you must apply to the Student Affairs Office. The application must be sent to the Immigration Office in Lincoln Nebraska for the "Employment Authorization Document" (EAD), along with the recommendation of Student Affairs within the following time frame: 90 days prior to completion of studies up to 60 days after completion.
How do I apply?
OPT Tutorial


• Obtain your I-20ID (Student) Copy


• Complete the I-765 - EAD application NOTE: The answer to question #15 on the I-765 is F-1. The answer to question #16 is (c)(3)(i)


$340 check


• Obtain your I-94


• Obtain a letter from your academic advisor certifying your field of study, specifying when you will complete your studies, and a statement that the proposed employment is directly related to your major area of study and commensurate with your educational level.


• Include two photos with a white background taken no earlier than 30 days before submission to INS. The INS specifications about the photos are extremely detailed.


Once you have completed these requirements the International Student Advisor will complete Section B of the Form I-538 and "recommend" practical training on your I-20ID (Student) Copy. ISA will mail the required documents to the INS office in Lincoln, Nebraska, which will then mail you the Employment Authorization Document. This process has been taking 3 months.


When can I begin practical training?
Once you have received your EAD and the date for employment is current, you may begin practical training. You may not begin your practical training until you receive your EAD.
Can I change employers?
You may change employers after practical training has been authorized provided the new job is (1) directly related to your major field of study and (2) appropriate for someone with your level of education.
Can I travel outside the United States?
You may not travel outside of the U.S. after you graduate and before you receive your EAD. Once you have been granted practical training, you can travel outside the U.S. if you have (1) a valid visa, (2) Form I-20ID (STUDENT) Copy, endorsed for travel by Student Affairs "within the last six months," and (3) the "Employment Authorization Document" (EAD). Students who do not meet these requirements may not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. Check with Student Affairs before contemplating travel outside the U.S.