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 eligible to apply for post-completion OPT as early as 90 days before your program end date. The steps below outline the OPT application process.

Step 1: Review OPT Eligibility and Attend an In-Person OPT Session or 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 videos below or attend an in-person OPT session before applying.

OPT Overview and Eligibility Requirements (Transcript)

How to Apply for OPT (Transcript)

Maintaining Status During OPT (Transcript)

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 videos before submitting.

After submission, you will need to email your I-94 record and unofficial transcript from MyAccess to your international student advisor.  We will not issue your new OPT I-20 until your I-94 record and unofficial transcript are received.

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:

  • Filing Fee: 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.  The purpose of payment is “I-765 application fee”.  Money orders are available at the post office. Paying with a credit card requires submission of Form G-1450. USCIS only accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. If the card does not have the full $410 available, your entire application will be sent back to you.
    • New York University has a useful guide that explains how to fill out checks and money orders.
  • Two passport-style photos taken within 30 days (Should meet requirements; can be taken at CVS, UPS store, or post office)
  • Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (not required but strongly recommended)
  • Form I-765 with the following code in item 27: (c) (3) (B). See Sample Form I-765 for details.
  • Copy of new Form I-20  (with OPT recommendation on page 2).  Must be received by USCIS within 30 days of issuance or application will be denied. We strongly recommend mailing within 1 week of issuance.
  • Copies of all previous I-20s.
  • Copies of previous EADs (if any)
  • Copy of passport biographic page
  • Printout of I-94 record
  • Copy of F-1 Visa (unless Canadian citizen)
  • Copy the entire application before mailing it to USCIS and save it for your records
  • Sign up for Informed Delivery with USPS for advanced warning of when to expect the EAD card to be delivered after it has been shipped by USCIS
  • Mail in OPT application to USCIS
    • We recommend that you send your application via a tracked method (UPS, FedEx, or USPS priority mail) so that you can track your package. 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.

Step 4: Wait for Approval and EAD card

While the Application is Pending

Application processing may take 90 days or longer.  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 email us.

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).  Email us as soon as possible about reapplying.

If your Application is Returned to You

If your application is returned to you, please email us as soon as possible to see if you need a new I-20 before resubmitting your application.

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 a Social Security Number as soon as you reach the start date listed on the EAD.

Please email us a copy of your EAD card after you have received it.

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.

Responsibilities during the OPT Period

You must report whenever you start or end a new job or internship. You must also report if your local (U.S.) address changes while you are on OPT. Address changes must be reported within 10 days of moving.

All SEVP Portal communications will be sent to your Georgetown email address.

All address, telephone and employer changes must be reported in the SEVP Portal within 10 days of the change. Students on F-1 OPT will no longer need to update this information through Graduate Programs.

SEVP Portal Eligibility:
OPT Approved and Active students are only eligible to access the Portal when:

  • The request status for OPT changes to “Approved” in their SEVIS record (OPT is approved by the USCIS and this is generally reflected in SEVIS, but if this approval did not transmit properly to SEVIS a request can be submitted to correct this) and;
  • The OPT period is active

Creating an Account:
You will receive an email from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov on your OPT start date inviting you to set up a Portal account. Follow the instructions on the email using your SEVIS ID number to create a password for the account.

Troubleshooting:

Email us  if you did not receive the SEVP invitation email (check spam or junk mail first).  This email will not be sent until you reach your OPT start date.

If you are locked out of your account, select the “Password Reset” option on the SEVP Portal log in page.

After Account Creation
You will need to use your Georgetown email address to log into your SEVP Portal account.

Additional Information
More information about the SEVP Portal can be found here.

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

Reporting Employment

Employer updates need to include text describing the relationship between the practical training opportunity and your major field of study at Georgetown. SEVP has shared examples of this text description, which are included below.

Please ensure that you have updated the SEVP Portal with your current employer information, including a detailed description of the relationship between your current position and your major area of study. If you need to update your current employment to include a more robust description of the relationship between your employment and your field of study, please be sure to edit your current employment information. Do not delete your current employer information.

While the examples from SEVP do not include LL.M. or J.D. degrees, they provide a framework for your text description in the Portal. We have noticed that some students have updated with Portal with very short descriptions, such as “legal intern”. All of the examples from SEVP include 2-3 sentences, and we strongly encourage you to match this length. Here are the examples from SEVP:

1. Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering: I work full time as an Electrical Engineer at ABC Corp., a government contractor. In my job, I analyze client requirements for electrical systems and provide them with cost estimates of such systems. My work requires understanding of electrical circuit theory, which I studied in-depth at the University of ABC.

2. Bachelor’s degree in Business: I work full time as a Loan Officer at a mortgage company, Happy Homes, where I meet with clients and evaluate, authorize and recommend approval of loan applications. On a daily basis, I use the knowledge I gained in my credit analysis, sales and marketing classes that I took as part of my major program of study.

3. Master’s degree in Music: I am working at a hospital playing the harp in patient rooms. I also conduct hands-on harp beginner workshops for long-term patients. On average, I work at the hospital 35 hours a week. My duties directly utilize the skills and knowledge I acquired from my coursework and degree in music therapy.

4. PhD in Computer Science: I am employed as a Computer and Information Research Scientist at ABC Research Institute. I work as part of a team of scientists and engineers that designs experiments to test the operation of various software systems. My work builds on research in complex algorithms and machine learning, which I studied as part of my dissertation.

5. Master’s degree in Kinesiology: I am working 25 hours a week in a health food store as a consultant for Self-Made Inc., designing and teaching exercise classes that are incorporated into a customer’s overall nutrition and exercise plan . My designs and customer instruction draw upon my studies and classwork in exercise therapy and physical reconditioning

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 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.