Post-Completion Optional Practical Training

 Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment authorization that allows an F-1 student to work in a position directly related to his or her field of study AFTER completion of studies (graduation). OPT gives you the opportunity to apply the knowledge you gained during your degree program at the Law Center. 

You are able to apply for post-completion OPT 90 days prior to your program end date.  We strongly encourage May 2018 graduates to mail the application package to USCIS no later than February 28, 2018.  The steps below outline the OPT application process.

Step 1: Review OPT Eligibility and View OPT Session

Step 2: Submit OPT Request Form and Quiz

Step 3: Complete Form I-765 & Submit OPT Application Materials to USCIS

Step 4: Wait for Approval and EAD card

Step 5: Maintain Status During OPT

Step 1: Review OPT Eligibility and View Online OPT Session

  • You must complete one full academic year in F-1 status before you are eligible for OPT. (You may submit your application prior to completing a full academic year, but you must complete a full academic year before you reach your OPT start date.)
  • You must be in good academic standing
  • No job offer letter required
  • F-1 students are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT at each degree level
  • All employment must be directly related to your field of study. 

You MUST watch the online OPT session (below) or attend an in-person OPT session before applying. 

To view with captions, select the "cc" icon on the bottom right of the video after it starts playing.

Step 2: Submit OPT Request Form and Quiz

    Complete the OPT Request Form and Quiz.  You will need to retake the quiz if you do not receive a passing score.  If you are unsure of the answers, review the online session before submitting. 

    Our office will then recommend you for OPT and issue a new Form I-20 to be included in the USCIS OPT application. See Step 3. (Processing Time: 3-5 business days).

Step 3: Complete Form I-765 & Submit OPT Application Materials to USCIS

You will need to prepare an OPT application packet to send to USCIS. 

Application Checklist:

  • Form G-1145 (e-Notification of Application Acceptance)
  • Filing Fee ($410): Personal check, cashiers check or money order.  Please view the USCIS fee instructions to make sure you comply.  The filing fee for OPT is $410, and the purpose of payment is "I-765 application fee".  Money orders are available at the post office.
  • Two passport-style photos (see sample) taken within 30 days
  • Form I-765  Be sure to sign this form! Your application will be rejected if this is not signed.
  • Copy of new Form I-20 (with OPT recommendation on page 2). Make sure you sign on page 1 before copying.  Your application must be received by USCIS within 30 days I-20 issuance.  We recommend you mail it within one week.
  • Copies of all previous I-20s
  • Copies of previous EAD cards (If you have previously been approved for OPT)
  • Copy of passport biographic page
  • Copy of I-94 card (front & back) or automated I-94
  • Copy of F-1 Visa (Unless Canadian)

Tips for Completing the I-765

  • Type this form, then print and sign.  Handwritten forms can result in errors on the EAD. 
  • "I am applying for": check "permission to accept employment" 
  • Item 1: Your family name comes first and should be in ALL CAPS.  Your name should match the name on your I-20 and on your passport.
  • Item 3: List the address where USCIS will send the receipt notice and EAD.  Address should remain valid for at least three months after submission of the application.  Mail from USCIS cannot be forwarded.
  • Item 6: Use the U.S. style of writing dates (month/day/year)
  • Item 11: If you have submitted this form to USCIS previously, you have applied.  If you still have either the receipt or the approval notice from your initial application, the receipt number tells you where it was filed (SRC = Texas, EAC = Vermont, LIN = Nebraska, WAC = California).  Enter the date you were approved/denied.  If you were granted or denied, you must attach a copy of the EAD or denial. 
  • Items 14 and 15: F-1 Student.  (If you completed a chance of status in the U.S., check with your advisor about Item 14.)
  • Item 16: Reason code for post-completion OPT is (c)(3)(B)
  • Item 17 (Employer's E-Verify Number): Leave blank.
  • Item 18: Leave blank
  • Certification: After printing form, sign and date.  Your application will be rejected if this form is not signed.

Submitting the application:

If you would like your application reviewed before you submit it, please come in during walk-in hours.  If you only need Form I-765 reviewed, you can email a scanned copy or photo of the form to

Mail your OPT Application to USCIS.  Use a tracked method (UPS, FedEx, or USPS priority mail) to send your application.  The closest UPS store is at 455 Massachusetts Ave; the closest FedEx store is inside the Hyatt at 400 New Jersey Ave; the closet USPS location is 2 Massachusetts Ave.  If you list a DC, Maryland, or Virginia address on Form I-765, use one of the following lockbox addresses:

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

PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For FedEx/UPS/other courier service:

Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 
Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067


If you list another state on the I-765, look up the lockbox location address here.

Step 4: Wait for Approval and EAD card

Next Steps Brochure (Hard copy will be attached to your new OPT I-20) 

While the Application is Pending

Application processing may take up to 90 days.  You should receive a receipt notice at the address you listed on Form I-765 in approximately 4-6 weeks.  You can use your receipt number to check your case status online.  If you completed Form G-1145, you should receive an emailed notification as well. 

You may not legally begin working during this time.  We do not recommend traveling outside the U.S. after your program end date if you application is pending.  

If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE)

A Request for Evidence, or RFE, is made when an application lacks required documentation/evidence.  If you receive an RFE, it is very important to respond as soon as possible.  If you have any questions about responding to the RFE, please contact

If your Application is Denied

If your application is denied, you may reapply if you are still within the 60 day grace period following your program end date (graduation).  Contact as soon as possible about reapplying. 

After the Application is Approved

Once USCIS approves the OPT, you will receive an Employment Authorized Document (EAD) card. Please note that the approval notice will be mailed separately from the EAD card.  You should receive the EAD care approximately one week after receiving the receipt notice. You cannot begin work until you have received the EAD. The EAD will explicitly state the dates you are authorized to work. If you do not have a Social Security Number and will be working in a paid position, you will need to apply for one as soon as you reach the start date listed on the EAD.

Please email a copy of your EAD card to after you receive the card.  

Step 5: Maintain Status During OPT

Travel After your Program End Date

We strongly discourage travel after your program end date unless you have received your EAD card and have a job offer letter.  

Please note that time spent outside the United States while on post-completion OPT counts as unemployment unless the travel is either on behalf of an employer OR is part of a period of leave (such as a vacation) authorized by the employer. 

Additional travel information, including the documents you will need to re-enter, is available here.

Responsibilities during the OPT Period 

You must report here whenever you start or end a new job or internship.  Georgetown will add this to your SEVIS record and print a new I-20 for you reflecting the new job or internship. 

If your local (U.S.) address changes while you are OPT, fill out this form with 10 days. 

If you leave the U.S. and do not intend to return to use OPT, email so that we can end your F-1 status.

Periods of Unemployment

During post-completion OPT, you are allowed to accrue up to 90 days of unemployment, including any time covered by the H-1B Cap-Gap. Volunteer positions or and unpaid internships of at least 20 hours per week in in the field of law count as employment for OPT purposes.  The permitted period of unemployment is calculated with the cumulative days of unemployment.  If you use 45 days of unemployment at the beginning of your OPT period, you would only have 45 more days of unemployment for the rest of your OPT period.  It does not restart with each new job. 

Please note that your SEVIS record will be auto-terminated after you accrue 90 days of unemployment.  At this point, you would be considered out of status and would need to leave the U.S. immediately.  You would not receive a grace period.


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