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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Temporary employment for optional practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.

Requirements:
  • You are eligible for 12 months of OPT
  • Cumulative maximum of 12 months per education level (undergraduate, graduate, etc)
  • You are ineligible if one year of full time CPT has been utilized
  • Your OPT must relate to course of study and be in line with education level
  • You must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card from USCIS before beginning OPT
  • Application must be filed with the USCIS before the program completion date
    • It usually takes 90 days for your application to be approved or denied by USCIS
  • You do not need an offer of employment to apply for OPT; however, you are only allowed 90 days of unemployment throughout your post-completion OPT
  • SEVIS will cancel OPT after 90 days of unemployment from OPT start date
  • You must notify ISS when you have secured employment
    • Notify ISS with an offer letter from the employer with the name and address of the employer

You must make an appointment with ISS to apply for OPT. You will need to bring ALL of the following:

  • Completed OPT Request Form (to be completed by your adviser or department head)
  • Form I-765, completed by student
  • I-765 filing fee, money order $410 made out to ‘US Department of Homeland Security’
  • Copy of Passport
  • Copy of Visa
  • Copy of your I-94
  • Copies current I-20 and ALL previous I-20s (pages 1 and 2)
  • 2 passport photos (write name and I-94 number on the back)
  • Social Security card (if applicable)
  • EAD card (if applicable)

Mail to:

For U.S. Postal Services (USPS) Deliveries:

USCIS

PO Box 660867

Dallas, TX  75266

 

For Express Mail Courier Deliveries:

USCIS

Attn: NFB AOS

2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX  75067

Check the status of your OPT application

OPT Begins

The date the employment is scheduled to begin OR the date the EAD is issued, whichever is LATER (you are unable to begin your OPT until you have received your EAD card, even if your chosen start date has arrived)

  • A student may not begin employment prior to the approved start date on his or her employment authorization.
  • A student may not request a start date that is more than 60 days after the student’s program end date.
  • Employment authorization will begin on the date requested or the date the employment authorization is approved (the day you receive your EAD card), whichever is later.
OPT Ends
  • After 14 months of completion of study regardless of whether student has reached 12 month limit or not (unless the student is eligible for the STEM program)
  • On transfer release date to another institution
  • When a change of education level occurs (when previous education level becomes complete and current becomes active in SEVIS)