Apply for OPT

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit for students in F-1 immigration status that permits up to 12 months of off-campus employment for the purpose of gaining practical experience in the student’s chosen field. For more information about how to apply and timelines for POST-COMPLETION OPT, please view the Post-Completion OPT Presentation found on the Forms & Resources page under the OPT Application forms and resources section.

To begin the application process, students both at the college and institute are asked to complete the ISSS OPT Intake form found on the Forms & Resources page. Students should ensure they have reviewed and compiled the documentation from the application checklist below before submitting the ISSS OPT Intake Form. Upon submission of this form, ISSS will respond to provide next steps to you in the OPT application process.

The general requirements for applying for OPT is similar whether you are applying for pre-completion or post-completion OPT. There are two ways to apply, either by mail or online form. See below for the application checklist. 

  • Completed and signed Form I-765. For those mailing, we recommend that you fill out the form via pdf before printing. For those applying by online form, we recommend you create the USCIS account and begin filling out the form. It automatically saves as a draft for 30 days. *Caution - do NOT pay and submit the application without receiving a new I-20 recommending OPT from ISSS!

  • Two photos (in a photo holder or envelope if mailing application). Photos must be a full-color frontal pose on a white background (passport-style photo). If mailing application, write your name and SEVIS number gently on the back of each photo in pencil or felt pen.

  • One copy of the new SEVIS I-20 with the OPT recommendation (to be issued by ISSS after receipt of your Intake Form and required documents)

  • Copies of all former I-20s you were issued since your arrival in F-1 status.

  • One copy of the I-94 record, found here.

  • One copy of the F-1 visa (if applicable).

  • One copy of the passport biographical page.

  • Check or money order (if applying by mail) —application fee can be found in the Form I-765 instructions. For those applying by online form, you will need a bank card to pay.

  • OPTIONAL for mailed applications: Complete the G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance form, if you wish to receive electronic notification of your application status.

Always contact ISSS with any questions about the process or application itself. 

Updated as of 03/01/2023 

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