Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is most commonly used by students to gain work experience in their field of study after completing a degree program. There are certain other situations in which OPT may be possible prior to completion of a degree program.

Applications for OPT are submitted by mail to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When approved, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD, Form I-766) will be mailed to the address which is listed on the student’s I-765 application form.

OPT applications must be submitted prior to completion of a degree program. It can take USCIS ninety days or more to process an OPT application. The International Support Services can provide a current estimate of processing times. Applications should be submitted at least 90 days prior to the date you want to begin working. You cannot begin working until you have received your EAD card.

USCIS regulations allow up to 12 months of OPT at each degree level for a student in F-1 status. A student must have been in F-1 status for at least 9 consecutive months to be eligible for OPT. In certain circumstances, time spent in full-time study in another immigration status may count toward satisfaction of the 9-month rule.

Students remain in F-1 status during the period of OPT, and must continue to report any change of address or employer within 10 days to USCIS via the SEVP Portal

Application Procedure


  1. Completed Form, I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
    In item #27 Eligibility Category, enter ( c )( 3 )( B )
    This indicates to the USCIS that you are applying for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training.

  2. Copies of Passport Biographic Page and Visa Page.

  3. Print the most recent Form I-194, Arrival/Departure Record -  
  4. Two passport sized photos
    Need to be on a white background with a picture that shows your entire face.
    Your photo must not have been more than 30 days prior to the submission of your application and not previously used.
    Use this guide to ensure you have properly sized photos: 

  5. OPT Recommendation Request and Acknowledgement Forms:
  6. Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance:  
  7. Filing Fee:
    $410 check or money order made payable to: United States Department of Homeland Security 

  8. Copy of last EAD (Employment Authorization Document) if available/applicable

    At this point in the process, please see the ISS office to review your documents.

  9. Upon review of application, ISS will generate a new Form I-20 of which you will send a copy with your application.

Reporting Requirements While on OPT

You are required to update your OPT employer information to ensure your SEVIS record is accurate at all times. It is your responsibility to maintain and report updates to your employment and address. However, ISS will continue to support you during this process. Report any address changes (within 10 days of it changing) or changes of employer by emailing and by logging into your SEVP Portal and updating your profile there. If you are having trouble logging in to your SEVP portal account, email ISS for assistance.

You can read more about your OPT reporting requirements here: