Optional Practical Training (OPT)
STEM OPT Extension
Optional Practical Training allows students in F-1 status to work part-time or full-time in his/her field of study for up to 12 months after completion of each degree level (e.g. Bachelor, Master, Doctorate). This work can be paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time. Students on OPT must work a minimum of 20 hours per week.
On site OPT workshops are scheduled periodically throughout the year. Please check your email or contact us for the most current workshop schedule.
When should I file for OPT?
The application must be filed up to 90 days prior to the degree program end date and no later than 60 days after the program end date. Please note that processing times can be 3-5 months, so early application is recommended.
To start, review the OPT presentation for an overview on assembling your OPT application!
You are required to attend one of our mandatory OPT seminars during the semester you graduate. The seminar will cover information related to OPT application process. Check your NSU email for seminar/workshop schedule.
- Please meet with your International Student Advisor to discuss your OPT options. Schedule Appointment
- Submit the completed OPT Request Form (pdf) to firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Office of International Programs.
- Note: Students must Apply for Graduation here or via GoNSU before submitting the OPT Request form.
- Gather and prepare all the items you need for your OPT application listed in the OPT Application Checklist (pdf)
Once we receive the completed OPT Request Form, the International Student Advisor will update your I-20 with OPT Recommendation. This can take up to 5-7 business days. You will be notified via NSU email when your updated I-20 is ready for pick up.
Students have 30 days to submit the OPT application from the moment the International Student Advisor contacts the student to pick up the updated 1-20 with OPT recommendation.
Schedule an appointment with your International Student Advisor to review your OPT application.
- Bring the OPT Application Checklist and all required documents
Complete the OPT application (paper or online). If you need a second review or have questions on your application, schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor.
- 1. Prepare Your Documents
- 2. Create or Log into Your USCIS Account
- 3. Completing Your Online OPT Application
- 4. Review and Submit
- 5. Pay the Application Fee
To make the process of submitting your online application easy, please have the electronic files for these documents ready before you begin:
most recent i-94 arrival record (not your travel history)
Please make sure that your I-94 record reflects your most recent entry to the U.S. The I-94 should list 'F-1' as your class of admission and Admit Until Date: 'D/S'. If you see any errors on your I-94, please contact your International Student Advisor
2 x 2 photo
Get a new photo taken and save a digital file to upload in your application.
new opt i-20
Once you receive your new I-20 recommending OPT from your International Student Advisor, please:
copy of old i-20s
You should also have copies of your previous I-20s, especially the ones for (not all may apply to you):
copy of passport id page
If you are a citizen of more than one country, please have copies of all of your passports ready.
If your F-1 visa is on your old passport, please have copies of both the old and the new passport ready.
copy of f-1 visa
If you have more than one F-1 visa in your passport, you only need the most recent one. (Not applicable if you are Canadian)
copy of previous ead(s)
If you used OPT before at your current or previous educational level, have copy(ies) of your EAD(s) ready.
- Follow instructions for creating a USCIS Online Account or log in to your USCIS account if you already have one.
- Click on 'MyUSCIS'
- Select 'File a Form Online' and choose 'Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)'.
- Follow the instructions and complete each step in the order they are presented to you.
As you navigate the sections of the online I-765 application, follow these tips to complete and submit your application. Once you pay the fee, you will no longer be able to edit your application.
What Is Your Eligibility Category?
This is one of the most important choices you need to make and you need to make it right. Choosing the wrong category may result in the wrong EAD and you might need to pay a new filing fee to correct it. Choose '(c)(3)(B) Student Post-Completion OPT' unless you are a continuing student who will return to study after your Pre-Completion OPT (c)(3)(A) ends.
|What is Your Reason for Applying?||Choose 'Initial permission for employment'.|
|U.S. Mailing Address||This is where your EAD will be mailed.
Make certain that the address you put in this section will be valid for the next 5 months as this is where your receipt and approval notice, and EAD will be sent. Mail from USCIS will not be forwarded by the U.S. Postal Service.
|What is Your Date of Birth?||Be sure to use MM/DD format.|
|What is Your Country of Citizenship or Nationality?||If you are a dual national, please remember to upload copies of both your passports in the relevant evidence section (see below).|
|What is your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Number (if any)?||Enter the admission number on your most recent I-94 arrival record (not your travel
history). Make sure the record reflects your most recent entry to the U.S. and indicates
F-1 as your class of admission and Admit Until Date: 'D/S', which stands for 'duration
of status'. If you see any errors on your most recent I-94 record, please
contact your International Student Advisor.
|Place of Arrival||
Please choose the port of entry (air, land, or sea) where you cleared U.S. immigration during your most recent trip.
Status at Last Arrival
Scroll down and select 'F1 - Student, Academic Or Language Program'.
What is Your A-Number?
Select 'I do not have or know my A-Number'.
What is Your USCIS Account Number?
If this is your first online application to USCIS, you will not have a USCIS Account Number yet. Select 'I do not have or know my USCIS Online Account Number'.
2x2 Photo of You
Get a new photo taken and save a digital file to upload in your application.
You do not need to upload your travel history. Make sure the record reflects your most recent entry to the U.S. and indicates F-1 as your class of admission and Admit Until Date: 'D/S', which stands for 'duration of status'. If you see any errors on your I-94, please contact your International Student Advisor
Employment Authorization Document or Government ID
If you used OPT before, upload a legible copy of your EAD card(s) here.
Regardless of any prior OPT use, please also upload in this section copies of:
Be sure to name each file appropriately.
Previously Authorized CPT or OPT
Be sure to name each I-20 appropriately (e.g. “Initial I-20”, or “Summer 2021 CPT I-20”, etc.) If you are missing any of these I-20(s) please let your International Student Advisor know so that they can help you retrieve them.
Please print, sign, scan, and then upload here the new I-20 that the Office of International Programs issued to recommend you for OPT. This is the most important document in your online application. DO NOT SUBMIT your OPT application without uploading this new I-20 that shows your requested OPT type, full or part-time status, and dates at the top of the second page of your new I-20.
You should select 'add a response' ONLY if you:
- Had a different SEVIS number(s) than your current one: Choose the 'About You' section, the 'Your immigration information' page, and the 'What is your SEVIS number (if any)?' question, and under 'Additional Information' indicate your previous SEVIS ID and the start and end date of your previous I-20(s).
- Have previously been authorized OPT(s): Choose the 'Evidence' section, the 'Previously authorized CPT or OPT' page, and 'Previously authorized CPT or OPT' question, and under 'Additional Information' include the receipt number (the number that starts with YSC, EAC, PSC, WAC, LIN, etc.), start and end dates of OPT, whether it was full-time or part-time, pre- or post-completion, and academic level (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate) at which each OPT was authorized.
- Have previously been authorized CPT(s): Choose the 'Evidence' section, the 'Previously authorized CPT or OPT' page, and 'Previously authorized CPT or OPT' question, and under 'Additional Information' include the start and end dates of your CPT, whether it was full-time or part-time, and academic level (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate) at which each CPT was authorized.
- Are a citizen of three or more countries: Choose the 'About You' section, the 'Your immigration information' page, and the 'What is your country of citizenship or nationality?' question, and under 'Additional Information' indicate your additional nationalities and be sure to upload copies of each passport under the 'Employment Authorization Document or Government ID' section of Evidence.
- Check that you are within the 30-day window after the date your new I-20 recommending OPT was issued. Do not submit your application if it is outside this timeframe. Contact your International Student Advisor for assistance.
- Verify that all information is correct, then digitally sign and submit your application.
- Pay the required application fee of $410 (debit or credit card payment recommended)
- Remember that once you pay the fee, there can be no changes to your application as it will be considered submitted.
If you prefer not to apply online, you still have an option to print and mail your OPT application to USCIS after you receive your new OPT I-20.
Note that a paper application cannot be amended after filing, so make sure that you follow these directions to complete the application correctly.
- Deadlines to note:
- USCIS needs to receive (being postmarked is not sufficient) your OPT application within 30 days of the issuance date of your I-20 recommending OPT
- If you file outside this regulatory limit your OPT application can be denied
- Your International Student Adviser will give you a specific deadline in your email notification when the OPT I-20 is ready
- Sign the copy of the new I-20 before you submit it to USCIS.
- Review the OPT Application Checklist for Mailing and make sure you have all the required documents ready for mailing.
Mailing your OPT Application
We recommend that you mail your OPT application via certified mail with a return receipt or tracking number, e.g. Fed Ex, UPS, USPS.
Your OPT package must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the issuance of your new OPT I-20.
Your OPT application and all of the required documentation above must be sent to the USCIS Lockbox facility. Find the correct lockbox and the relevant address here (look under Foreign Students, category (c)(3)(i)). Please note that the address of the lockbox facility is slightly different depending on your mailing method (via USPS or courier service).
USCIS Dallas Lockbox
U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266-0867
FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
Attn: NFB (Box 660867)
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067-8003
OPT Checklist for Mailing
- Check or Money Order for $140 (learn more on the "Paying the OPT Application Fee" tab)
- Two Photographs (learn more on the "Passport-Style Photographs" tab)
- Form G-1145
- Form 1-765 (learn more on the Form "I-765" tab)
- Photocopy of new I-20 recommending OPT (signed and dated)
- Photocopies of all previous I-20s
- Photocopy of your previous EAD cards (if you used OPT before)
- Printed most recent I-94 record
- Photocopy of your passport ID page(s)
- Photocopy of your F-1 visa stamp (unless you are Canadian)
You will need to include a check or money order for $410 USD payable to 'U.S. Department of Homeland Security' with your OPT package.
If you are using a check, it should be linked to a U.S. bank account.
Important Note: Please make sure to:
- Date your check using the MM/DD/20YY format, and
- Maintain a high enough balance in the account linked to your check for at least the next two months or until USCIS cashes your check.
Money orders can be purchased at a Post Office (this is a USPS hyperlink) or obtained from your bank (also called a 'cashier's check').
You can find the appropriate USCIS address to include in your money order on this page under “Foreign Students”, category (c)(3)(i). Please note that the address of the lockbox facility is slightly different depending on your mailing method (via USPS or courier service).
- Write your full legal name as it appears on your passport and SEVIS number in pencil on the back of the photos.
- Do not cut to size or staple yourself; have it cut professionally.
- Do not wear eye glasses.
- Photographs submitted for use on an EAD card must not have been taken more than 30 days prior to the submission of the I-765 application and not have been previously used.
The Form I-765 is the application form for OPT.
You should read the USCIS I-765 Instructions in addition to our tips below. If you are uncertain about any question on this form, simply leave it blank and you can discuss it with your International Student Advisor.
- Check the first box: Initial permission to accept employment.
- Part 2: Question 5: Your U.S. Mailing Address: Make certain that the address you put will be valid for the next 5 months as this is where your receipt and approval notice, and EAD will be sent. Mail from USCIS will not be forwarded by the U.S. Postal Service. If you have any doubt where your mail will be delivered after graduation, we strongly advise that you use the OISS address (421 Temple St, New Haven CT 06511).
- Part 2: Question 27: Eligibility codes:
- Pre-Completion: (c) (3) (A)
- Post-Completion: (c) (3) (B)
- Part 2: Question 7: Some people are reporting that they are unable to enter text in these boxes. Make sure the 'No' box is selected before trying to enter text (you only need to answer this question if you answered 'No' to question 6). If you are still unable to enter text, you can insert a text box using your PDF reader, or print the form and manually enter your address.
- Part 2: Questions 28 - 31b: Leave blank
- Part 3: Question 7a: Applicant's Signature: Sign in blue ink and make sure your signature does not touch any text or lines.
- Part 4: Leave this entire section blank if an interpreter did NOT help you complete this form.
- Part 5: Leave this entire section blank if someone did NOT prepare this form on your behalf.
- Part 6: Use this section to note any of the following if applicable:
- Indicate if you have had different SEVIS numbers (records) than your current one. Indicate the dates of those records. (Citation to include: Page 3 Part 2 Item Number 27)
- Indicate if you have previously been authorized OPT(s). Be sure to include the receipt number (the number that starts with EAC, PSC, WAC, LIN, etc.), start and end dates of OPT, and academic level (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate) at which each OPT was authorized. (Citation to include: Page 3 Part 2 Item Number 27)
- Indicate if you have previously been authorized CPT(s). Be sure to include the start and end dates of CPT, and academic level (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate) at which each CPT was authorized. (Citation to include: Page 3 Part 2 Item Number 27)
- Indicate if you are a citizen of three or more countries. Be sure to include copies of those passports. (Citation to include: Page 2 Part 2 Item Number 18)
- If you are going to submit your application to USCIS by mail, you will need to print single sided and include ALL seven (7) pages of the I-765 even if they are blank. If you apply online, this PDF is just a draft to help you answer the online questions.
Once you receive your EAD in the mail, it will list your employment start and end date. Be sure to submit a copy of the card to the Office of International Programs.
- You CANNOT work without an APPROVED EAD card
- You CANNOT work prior to your APPROVED start date
As soon as you locate employment, you must login to your SEVP Portal and update your employment information. Until an employer is entered you will be considered unemployed and the time will count towards your allowed unemployment of 90 days for the duration of your OPT. SEVP will email you instructions regarding your SEVP Portal login closer to the start date listed on your EAD card.
Please note if you receive your EAD card earlier than expected, you may not receive instructions to the SEVP Portal login until closer to the start date listed on your EAD card.
While you are on OPT, your SEVIS record is still a part of your NSU student records which is maintained by the Office of International Programs. Any changes in name, address, employment, status, etc. must be reported within 10 days.