Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Fall 2021 OPT Workshops Coming Soon -- For juniors, seniors, and graduating students
This workshop is designed to give you an introduction to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) application process. Anyone interested in attending this meeting is welcome. We highly recommend any juniors, seniors, or graduate students to attend prior to last beginning your last semester.
You may attend this workshop after attending Workshop I. This workshop will review in detail the process and timeline for submitting an OPT application via both mail and online. All students who are graduating in the current semester or next semester are encouraged to attend.
Going Virtual for OPT Workshops
OPT Workshops will be held virtually. You will receive an OPT Workshop invite via email. At the time of your workshop, use the calendar invite to join the virtual session through the link in your email.
Workshop I -- Overview
Workshop II -- The Process
How to Request OPT
Step 1. Confirm Graduation or Course Completion.
- Undergraduates -- If you are applying for post-completion OPT, make sure that you qualify for graduation. You should follow all of the steps from your academic unit to officially apply for graduation. If you do not end up graduating as planned, you are still responsible for maintaining your status on OPT and finishing your coursework during your OPT validity period.
- Graduates -- Graduate students may apply for OPT after completing coursework while continuing thesis/dissertation. Most graduate students will wait until they are close to completing their thesis/dissertation to apply for OPT. See tutorial for more information.
Step 2. Review the materials in "Workshop I -- The Overview" -- You can review the materials independently, or you can attend one of the scheduled workshops. Be sure to register in advance for workshops.
Step 3. Review the materials in "Workshop II -- MAIL Application" or "Workshop II -- ONLINE Application" -- You should decide which method you will use to submit your OPT application to USCIS. You can review the materials independently, or you can attend one of the scheduled workshops. Be sure to register in advance for workshops.
!!!WARNING -- BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR OPT APPLICATION YOU MUST REQUEST A NEW I-20 WITH OPT RECOMMENDATION!!!
Step 4. Complete OPT I-20 Request. Complete the OPT I-20 Request form, found here.
- Please allow up to 10 business days for an ISSS advisor to process your request.
Step 5. Filing Your Application.
- Once your OPT I-20 is ready, you will be notified via email.
- Check your I-20. On page 2, it will clearly indicate that OPT is "requested." Ensure that it is for full-time OPT and that the dates listed are correct. Advising slips attached to I-20s will clearly indicate the purpose for the I-20. Yours should indicate "OPT Application." If you have a doubt about your I-20, please contact ISSS.
- Physically SIGN your I-20.
- USCIS must receive your application within 30 days of the creation of your OPT I-20. Check the date of issuance on page 1 in the School Attestation box.
- Follow the instructions for your method of filing, either mail or online. See appropriate tutorial above.
Step 6. Check your Receipt Notification.
- (Mail) Within several weeks of USCIS receiving your application, a letter will be mailed to your mailing address as it was reported in your I-765 indicating that USCIS has received your application. A receipt number will be given to you along with the official received date. You may check the status of your application with your receipt number here. Please note that USCIS processing times are hard to predict; they could take up to 90 days or more to make a decision.
- (Online) You can log into your USCIS account to track the status of your applicaiton. You will also receive a paper copy in the mail sent to the address you provided in your application. Please note that USCIS processing times are hard to predict; they could take up to 90 days or more to make a decision.
Step 7. Receive & Check your EAD Card. Your card will be sent to you soon after a decision on your application has been made. Be sure to check the date on your card. Do NOT begin working until you have received your EAD card AND the start date has occurred.
Step 8. Begin Working & Update the SEVP portal. You must begin working according to the rules of your OPT work authorization. Remember, you have 90 days of authorized unemployment as of the start date listed on your EAD card. Once you begin working, you should log into your SEVP portal and report the necessary personal and employer information.
- After receiving your EAD card, you will get an email from "email@example.com" to log into your SEVP account within 14 days of receiving the email.
- SEVP Portal User Guide
- SEVP Portal Videos
- SEVP Portal Reference Sheet