Step 1: Determine OPT Eligibility

  • You must have completed one full academic year in full-time status. (You must complete one full academic year by the OPT start date, but you can apply before completing a full year. For example, a first year JD student may apply in March for pre-completion OPT to begin in June.)
  • You need to be in good academic standing.
  • No job offer letter is required.
  • F-1 students are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT at each new and higher degree level.
  • You may apply for part-time OPT (up to 20 hours per week) during academic year.
  • You may apply for full-time OPT for the summer break.
  • All employment must be directly related to the major field of study
  • You can apply up to 90 days before your requested start date

Step 2: View Online Pre-Completion OPT Session

Step 3: Submit OPT Request Form and Quiz

Complete the OPT Request Form and Quiz.

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 recommend OPT and issue a new I-20 (Processing Time: 5 business days) to be included in the USCIS application. If you submit the form more than 90 days before your requested start date, it will be held and processed so that you can pick up the new I-20 90 days prior to your requested start date.

Step 4: Complete Form I-765 & Submit OPT Application Materials 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.
    • Note: Some students have reported payment processing issues with debit/credit cards.
  • 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) (A). 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 5: What Happens Next?

Wait: Application processing may take 90 days or longer.

Once the application has been receipted and assigned a case number by USCIS, applicants may check the USCIS online case status for updates.

USCIS will mail communications to the address listed on your Form I-765 after you have submitted your application. You should receive a receipt from USCIS within 2 weeks of submitting your application. Check your receipt notice for errors. Notify your advisor immediately if you receive any additional requests from USCIS.

Once USCIS approves the OPT, you will receive an Employment Authorized Document (EAD). You cannot begin work until you have received the EAD card and the EAD dates are current. The EAD will explicitly state the dates you are authorized to work. If you do not have a Social Security Number, you will need to apply for one as soon as your EAD start date is valid.

Report your employment directly to your international student advisor as soon as you begin working.