Post-Completion Optional Practical Training
Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment authorization that allows F-1 students to work off campus in a position directly related to their field of study AFTER completion of studies. 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. For students with a program end date of May 17, 2014, 90 days prior is February 16, 2014. We strongly encourage all graduating students planning to use OPT to mail the application package to USCIS no later than March 1. The steps below outline the OPT application process.
Step 1: Review OPT Eligibility and Attend OPT Session
- Full-time status for one full academic year
- 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 the field of law.
OPT Sessions will at the following times:
Friday, January 23, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (McDonough 164)
Tuesday, January 27, 3:30-4:30 p.m. (McDonough 200)
Wednesday, February 4, 10-11 a.m. (McDonough 141)
Thursday, February 12, 10-11 a.m. (McDonough 140)
Wednesday, February 18, 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. (McDonough 164)
You MUST attend an OPT session or view the online OPT session (below) before applying.
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 any of the answers, we recommend reviewing
the online session before submitting.
Our office will recommend OPT and issue a new Form I-20 to be
included in the USCIS OPT application. See Step 3. (Processing Time: 3-5
Step 3: Complete Form I-765 & Submit OPT Application Materials to USCIS
- Form G-1145 (e-Notification of Application Acceptance)
- Filing Fee ($380): Personal check, cashiers check or money order. Please view the USCIS fee instructions to make sure you comply. The filing fee for OPT is $380, 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
- Copy of new Form I-20 (with OPT recommendation on page 3). Make sure you sign on page 1 (at number 11).
- Copies of all previous I-20s
- Copies of previous EADs (If you have previously received an EAD card for work authorization from USCIS)
- Copy of passport biographic page
- Copy of I-94 card (front & back) or automated I-94
- Copy of F-1 Visa
Tips for Completing the I-765 (View Sample Form here)
- 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
- 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. If you use a friend or relative's
address, write "c/o [friend's name]" before you write the address.
- Item 10: Your I-94 number is an 11 digit number found on your I-94 record.
- 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: Leave blank
Submitting the application:
Submit complete OPT Application to USCIS. (DO NOT use the online application.) You can have your application reviewed before mailing during walk-in hours or by appointment. 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, send to the USICS Dallas lockbox:
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
For Express mail and courier deliveries:
2501 S. State Hwy. 121
Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067If you list another state on the I-765, look up the lockbox location address here.
Step 4: What Happens Next?
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org after you receive the card.
Travel After your Program End Date
strongly discourage travel after your program end date unless you have
received your EAD card and have a job offer letter. Additional travel
information is available here.
Responsibilities during the OPT Period
You must report any of the following changes by filling out the Address Update or Employment/Unemployment forms here. Filling out these forms will notify our office so that we can update SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
- Address where you live and address where you receive mail, if different. You must do this within 10 days of any change
- Employer name(s) and address(es)
- All periods of unemployment
- Admission into a new academic program
- Change in your non-immigrant status
- Departure from the U.S., if you leave without intent to complete your OPT period
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. Volunteering and unpaid internships of 20 hours per week in positions directly related to your field of study do not count as periods of unemployment and should be reported as employment.