Things You Need to Know Before Applying for OPT
- Before applying for OPT, you must watch the OPT Online workshop (to the right), or attend an in-person OPT workshop.
- The OPT Application material can be found in the Forms Library. Make sure to download Parts 1 and 2.
- You do not need a job offer to apply for post-completion OPT.
- Your application must be reviewed by an international student advisor to get your
new OPT I-20, which is required for the OPT application.
- If you are applying for your STEM Extension OPT, please see the STEM OPT section of our website.
- OPT usually takes 90 days (3 months) to process, plus mailing time, so apply as soon as possible!
- OPT employment must be directly related to your field of study/major.
- In order to be eligible for OPT, you need to be a degree-seeking student who has been in full-time student status for at least one academic year.
Required OPT Application Materials:
List of Documents Necessary for the OPT Application
(All documents can be found in the Post-completion OPT Application (part 1 &2), located in the Forms Library. Note that participation in a workshop is required prior to applying for OPT.)
- Participate in and complete quiz from the OPT Online Workshop, or attendance at an OPT In-Person Workshop
- I-765 (found in OPT Application Part 2 in our Forms Library)
- G-1145 (found in OPT Application Part 1 in our Forms Library)
- Academic Advisor Recommendation Form (found in OPT Application Part 1 in our Forms Library)
- Copy of Passport Photo Page
- Copy of most recent F-1 visa
- I-94 (retrieve using this link)
- Personal check/cashier's check/money order for $410 made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- 2 Passport Photos (taken within the last 30 days) with name and I-94 number written on the back
- Previous EAD cards, if applicable
When you have readied these documents, please email the ISS Office or visit us during walk-in hours to get in touch with an immigration advisor.
Maintaining Your Status While on OPT:
You need to report updates in your physical location and employer within 10 days of the change. You can do this by logging into your SEVP Portal Account. You will receive an email from Department of Homeland Security with information about logging into your SEVP Portal once your OPT has been apprvoed. Failing to report employment can lead to an automatic termination of your status.
While on OPT:
- You have 90 days of allowable unemployment (150 days for STEM Extension OPT).
- You need to work at least 20 hours per week.
- The following things are considered employment:
- Paid employment
- Unpaid/volunteer employment
- Contract Hire (keep a list of the 1099's and the duration of your employment)
- Self-employed (if you have the proper business licenses)
- Multiple jobs (as long as all jobs are in your field of study)
While Your OPT Application is Pending:
Applying for pre-graduation/pre-completion OPT:
- You must have a job offer to apply for pre-completion OPT.
- While school is in session, you are limited to part-time pre-completion OPT, unless you are exempt from full-time enrollment/on Z status. You can take part in full-time pre-completion OPT during summer and winter breaks.
- You must have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year. You are eligible to apply for your pre-completion OPT to start the summer after your first academic year.