FAQs About OPT
What forms do I need to apply for practical training?
You'll need to complete an “Advisor's Recommendation Form for Optional Practical Training” and Form I-765. These forms are available in the Office of International Studies Education (ISE), along with an OPT application checklist.
How much practical training time am I eligible for?
If you have not been authorized for any previous practical training at the same degree level or at a higher level, you are eligible for up to twelve months, once you have completed one academic year of your program of study. Previous curricular practical training (CPT) will not affect the 12 months unless the curricular training was full-time and for more than twelve months.
May I obtain 12 months of practical training after each degree?
Yes. A student is eligible for 12 months of practical training for each change to a higher educational level. So a student in F-1 status who enters as a Bachelor’s degree student is eligible for up to 12 months of OPT upon completion of the Bachelor’s and then another 12 months upon completion of the next higher degree (Master’s).
How long does it take for the ISE office to process my OPT application?
After you have submitted the Advisor’s Recommendation Form to the ISE office, it will take 3-5 working days to process your new I-20 for OPT, the first step of your OPT application. Then you must assemble the necessary documents and mail them to USCIS.
How is my application processed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)?
To apply for your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, you must mail your completed application and all required attachments to the USCIS in Texas.
How long will the application approval process at USCIS take?
Processing time at USCIS is highly variable and difficult to predict. It can take up to twelve weeks and sometimes longer. Therefore, you are urged to apply early to allow sufficient time for you to receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. EAD cards are only processed by mail at a USCIS processing center.
What about the OPT application fee?
The USCIS application fee for OPT is $410.00
What is the deadline for sending in my application to USCIS?
You can apply up to 90 days before your program end date OR up to 60 days after your program end date. In addition, the application must be properly filed within 30 days of the date that ISE recommends OPT in SEVIS. It is recommended that students apply for OPT 90 days before their completion date. Only students who think they may not successfully complete all program requirements should wait to apply for OPT during the 60 day grace period. Applying for OPT later does not mean you are eligible to stay in the U.S. longer. All OPTs must end 14 months after a student’s program end date.
What should I put as the start date for practical training?
That depends on your plans. Practical training must begin no later than 60 days following your program completion date.
I have a job offer but my EAD card has not arrived yet. Can I begin work?
Can I work at any job with OPT authorization?
No. OPT authorization is only for employment related to your field of study. Working in an unrelated job is a serious violation of your F-1 status. Do not put your legal status at risk.
Once I receive my EAD card, is there anything else I should do?
Yes, please bring in your EAD card to the ISE Office so that a photocopy can be made for your file. Please Note: Employment cannot begin until the date authorized for practical training on the EAD and you have your EAD card “in hand."
Do I need a job offer to obtain practical training?
No. Proof of employment is not required to obtain practical training. However, any student on OPT may only have up to 90 days of unemployment.
What about change of address or change of name while I am on post-completion OPT?
While on post completion OPT, students must continue to report any name or address changes to the DSO at Neumann, because the school continues to maintain the F-1 record until OPT ends. Students must report the following to the DSO:
Name of employer
Start date of employment
Address of employer
If you change jobs the end date of your last job and above info on the new employment
If you change your status
If you exit the United States and complete your F-1 status prior to the end date of OPT
I may be moving while my application is pending. Can I give the ISE Office as my mailing address?
Yes. USCIS will mail EAD cards to an office address at a university. If you will be moving before you receive your EAD card then you will want to have the card sent to you at the ISE office address. Please see OPT application checklist for details.
I am planning to travel outside of the United States. The signature on my I-20 is eight months old. Do I need a new signature?
Yes. While you are on OPT you need a travel signature on your I-20 that is less than 6 months old on the day of your re-entry.
Remember, the staff of the International Studies Education is here to help you with this process. E-mail Jen MIntzer firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610.358.4547.