For most international students graduating in the spring semester, the typical application period for the OPT is from mid-March until July, while winter graduates typically start their application from mid -September until February.

 

Why these specific dates?

Because US Department of Homeland Security requires students to apply for their OPT no more than 90 days before their graduation date and no more than 60 days after their graduation date.

 

What is OPT?

This is a temporary work authorization granted to international students after they have completed their degree program. It enables students to gain practical work experience in their field of study for one year. The OPT can be applied for after each higher degree level.

 

How do I know I am eligible to apply for OPT?

  • Applicant must be lawfully enrolled full-time for at least one academic year
  • Applicant must have maintained their F-1 status
  • Applicant must not have been approved for 12 months or more of full-time CPT
  • Applicant has not been approved for OPT in the past for this same degree level or a higher degree level

Steps involved in applying for OPT

Step 1

How do I apply for OPT?

The process may differ from school to school. Meet with your academic advisor and your international students’ advisor concerning the application process. Fill out any necessary request form (s).

 

Step 2

What documents are required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)?

  • Two passport-size photos taken within the last 30 days. Write your name and I94 number lightly on the back of both passport-size photos.
  • Completed Form I-765 and G-1145
  • I-94 Printout
  • Front and back copy of any previous EAD cards
  • Copies of ALL previous I-20s. Arrange them such that the newest I-20 is on top and the oldest is at the bottom
  • Copies of Passport and visa
  • Check or money order for $380.00 payable to “ US Department of Homeland Security”

All these documents except the check or money order should be reviewed further by your international students’ advisor.

A new OPT-I20 will be issued by your international office in addition to the previous ones. A copy of this should be signed and added to the rest of your packet.  The documents listed above including any new documents should be mailed to the USCIS.

 

Step 3

Timelines

  • 2-3 days after USCIS receives your packet, an email or text will be sent to you
  • 1-2 weeks after USCIS notifies you of the receipt of your packet, a paper receipt called “Form I-797 will be mailed to you.
  • 2-3 months after USCIS receives your package, a feedback concerning your OPT will be issued
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