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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.  The steps below outline the OPT application process.

Step 1: Review OPT Eligibility and Participate in In-Person or Online OPT Tutorial

Step 2: Fill out the OPT Request form and take the OPT Quiz and submit unofficial Transcript

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

Step 4: Wait for Receipt Notice, Approval and EAD Card

Step 5: Maintain Status During OPT

Step 1: Review OPT Eligibility and Participate in In-Person or Online OPT Tutorial 

  • 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. 

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training Online Tutorial

You MUST participate in an online or in-person OPT tutorial before applying. 


Step 2: Fill Out the OPT Request From and Take the OPT Quiz and Submit Unofficial Transcript

First,  fill out the OPT Request form and take the OPT 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 information before submitting. 

After completing the OPT Request Form and OPT Quiz, submit a copy of your unofficial transcript to lawcentervisa@georgetown.edu. We will then create an OPT recommendation in your SEVIS record and issue a new Form I-20. This new I-20 will be included in your 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, money order, or credit card.  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. (Write your name and I-94 number on the back with pencil)
  • 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 of I-20 issuance.  We recommend you mail it within one week.
  • Copies of all previous I-20s. If you do not have all copies of your previous I-20s, you should write a letter acknowledging that they are missing. (See sample letter).
  • 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 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.  This address should remain valid for at least three months after submission of the application.  Mail from USCIS cannot be forwarded to another address.
  • Item 6: Use the U.S. style of writing dates (month/day/year)
  • Item 14: Your I-94 number is an 11 digit number found on your I-94 record.  
  • Item 15: 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 (PSC = Potomac Service Center, 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 16 and 17: This information can be found on your I-94 record.
  • Items 18 and 19: F-1 Student.  (If you completed a change of status in the U.S., check with your advisor about Items 18 and 19.)
  • Item 20: Reason code for post-completion OPT is (c)(3)(B) 
  • Item 21 (Employer's E-Verify Number): Leave blank.
  • Certification: After printing form, sign and date.  Your application will be rejected if this form is not signed

    * Form I-765 has optional fields (items 9-13) regarding the Social Security Number. All applicants should answer item 9.a. (and 9.b. if applicable). For students who do not have a SSN, we recommend answering "No" to item 10 and continuing with item 14. We recommend applying for the SSN separately after the EAD card is received and the start date is current until we verify the new collaboration between USCIS and the Social Security Administration

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 lawcentervisa@georgetown.edu.

Copy the entire application for your own records before mailing to USCIS.

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 closest 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:

USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For FedEx/UPS/other courier service:

USCIS
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 Receipt Notice, Approval and EAD card

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

While the Application is Pending

If your application is returned to you, please contact our office before you mail it back in. Applications might be returned if you do not sign the I-765 or if you do not include the correct application fee. You may need a new I-20 if this happens.

Application processing may take over 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. We encourage you to reach out to us before you respond to the RFE by emailing lawcentervisa@georgetown.edu and attaching a picture or scanned copy of the RFE.

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 lawcentervisa@georgetown.edu 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. 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 lawcentervisa@georgetown.edu 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 your employer update to your SEVIS record. 

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 lawcentervisa@georgetown.edu 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. Pro bono work or unpaid internships of at least 20 hours per week in your field of study count as employment for OPT purposes.  Unemployment is calculated cumulatively.  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 may 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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