This Checklist is designed to take students through all the necessary steps prior to filing Optional Practical Training (OPT).
- If you believe you are eligible for OPT, request a recommendation for OPT form from the International Advisor at the International Office.
- Complete the I-765 form available at the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
- Gather all of the necessary immigration documents and supporting materials which include:
- Copy of form I-94.
- Copies of the name and photo page of the passport and visa page.
- Copies of all I-20 forms that you have been issued.
- Copies of any previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
- Two identical photographs according to the requirement of the form.
- $ 340 fee.
- Copy of form I-94.
- Schedule a meeting with the international advisor to get the updated I-20 with OPT recommendation. Recheck your form and all the supporting documents to avoid any mistakes.
- Make copies of all application materials
- File the form I-765 and supporting documents as listed in item 3 with USCIS according to where you live.
Important OPT Reminders
- Students applying for pre-completion OPT, can file the I-765 form up to 90 days before being enrolled for a full academic year, as long as the OPT will not begin until after he/she has completed a full academic year. In case the student has already been enrolled for a full academic year, he/she can file the I-765 form up to 120 days prior to the requested OPT start date.
- Students applying for post-completion OPT, can file the I-765 form up to 90 days before the program end date and no later than 60 days after his/her program end date.
- The I-765 form must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the date your international advisor made the OPT recommendation in SEVIS.
- In case students move to a new location or if there is a change of address, students are required to provide USCIS with the new address. If the student fails to do this their EAD will be returned to USCIS. To make changes submit an online AR-11 form to USCIS and ask the international advisor to update SEVIS.
- OPT employment should be directly related to the student’s field of study and students should only begin work with their EAD card in hand.
- F-1 students are dependent upon full-time employment or volunteer services while on post-completion OPT. Students cannot accrue more than 90 days of unemployment while on post-completion OPT. If this occures students need to consult with the international advisor immediately.
- If a student’s application is approved, the USCIS will change the status of the student to ‘approved’ through an interface with SEVIS, including the date that the student is authorized for OPT. The authorized EAD card will also be sent to the student by USCIS. An automatic SEVIS alert from SEVIS will let students know that their application has been approved. The student’s SEVIS record remains active for the duration of OPT extension, plus 60 days.
- If a student’s application is denied, USCIS updates it in the students SEVIS record by changing the application status to ‘denied’. Students also get notice of denial from the USCIS. Students won’t be able to work without an approved EAD in all cases.