Optional Practical Training (OPT)

How to Apply for OPT

  1. OPT Release Form signed by your Academic Advisor.
  2. Select tentative OPT start date which must be within 60 days of your program end date.
  3. Bring all completed forms to OPT workshop.
  4. Print and complete the required Form I-765
  5. Make legible copies of :
    • Passport pages
    • Admission Stamp
    • Visa page
    • Front and back of I-94
    • Copies of all previous Form I-20 from all schools
    • Copy of previously issued Employment Authorization Documents
  6. Two recent passport pictures.
  7. A check or money order for $410 payable to Department of Homeland Security.
  8. A new I-20 Form will be issued with OPT Request notated on page 2.
  9. Submit a copy of new OPT I-20 Form along with all documents, check, passport pictures and forms (except OPT Release Form) to USCIS.
  10. Keep a copy of all documents submitted to USCIS.
  11. After graduation and once OPT has been approved, an e-mail will be sent to you by Student and Exchange Visitor Program which provides a link to SEVP PORTAL HELP

By Mail

Your OPT application and all of the required documentation must be sent to the USCIS Service Center Lockbox facility. You must mail the application within 30 days of the date the I-20 recommending OPT was issued; it must be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after the program completion date indicated on your I-20 requesting OPT.

Your OPT application must be sent to the USCIS Service Center Lockbox which has jurisdiction over the address listed on the I-765. This can be found on the USCIS site: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765-addresses.

Optional: For email notification of your Form I-765 application receipt at the Lockbox facility, complete Form G-1145 and submit along with you application packet by registered mail


On April 12, 2021 USCIS announced that F-1 students seeking OPT can now file their I-765 online. Below is recommended steps for completing the I-765 application Online

  1. Create your online USCIS account: https://myaccount.uscis.gov/
  2. Prepare the following documents
    1. Digital 2X2 color passport photo that meets USCIS specification
    2. A scan of your passport page
    3. A scan of your visa page
    4. A scan of the front and back of any previous EAD cards (if applicable)
    5. A scan of any previous I-20 Forms from all schools
    6. A digital copy of your new I-20 Form with an OPT recommendation
    7. A scan of your most recent I-94 Form - https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
    8. A credit card with which you can pay the filling fee
  3. File a form online - Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)

Note: If you choose to file your OPT application online, we recommend you should proceed the online application very carefully. The system allows you to submit your application without all required evidence, which can lead to Request for Evidence or denials. You should prepare all required documents which must be uploaded before submitting the online OPT application.

You should receive a 1-797 receipt notice of action within 2-3 weeks of mailing your application to USCIS. The receipt notice has your case/receipt number printed on it with the following format EAC-XX-XXX-XXXXX. You can track the progress of your OPT application at USCIS. Paying your OPT fee by check is another way to keep up with your application progress.

In a situation where a student receives a “Blue Colored Paper Request for Evidence”, all you need to do is to respond directly to USCIS with requested information within the time specified.

Once your OPT application has been approved, you will first receive an approval notice and the Employment Authorization Card should arrive by mail in about a week. Check your card to make sure that information such as your name, date of birth, and OPT dates are correct. If not, please send an e-mail to ayenio@ccsu.edu.

In addition, an e-mail will be sent to you by Student and Exchange Visitor Program which provides a link to SEVP PORTAL HELP.

OPT Employer Information

You may work for more than one employer and/or change employers during your period of authorized OPT. The employment you select for your OPT must be directly related to your major field of study. While on OPT, you are still in F-1 status and subject to F-1 regulations.

Travel outside the U.S. prior to receipt of the EAD may constitute an abandonment of an OPT application, causing it to be cancelled and prohibiting your re-entry to the U.S.

If you travel during your OPT, you will need:

  • A properly endorsed Form I-20 (within the last 6 months)
  • Your EAD card
  • Letter of Employment:
    • on company letterhead and signed by a company official
    • stating a brief job description showing relation to your current major
    • stating dates of employment: beginning & ending (must match EAD)
    • stating the number of hours per week: full or part time

Upon expiration of your EAD/OPT, you have a 60-day grace period during which you must depart the US, obtain a new Form I-20 for further study, extend the duration of your OPT or secure another immigration status.

Note: Beginning a new full time degree program of study and transferring of your SEVIS record to another school during OPT automatically voids OPT.

  • OPT Employer Information
  • Must have employer name and address
  • Employer name change
  • Loss of employment
  • Address change
  • Change of status
  • Transfer to another program

For students on OPT with H1B applications approved/ pending:

  • Inform the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) about Cap-Gap eligibility.
  • Provide I-797 Receipt or Approval Notice from USCIS.
  • Information will be sent to SEVP on student’s behalf.

A new I-20 will be issued with the Cap-Gap information

OPT Extensions

OPT can be extended for an additional 24 months. To be eligible for the 24 month OPT extension, you must have completed a degree in Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM degrees) and major is included on the STEM degree program list. For more information, see the links attached: Stem List and Optional Practice Training Extension for STEM student.

  • Eligibility Requirements:
    You must:
    • Have valid F-1 status.
    • Be a STEM student.
    • A copy of your diploma.
    • Your employer name as listed in E-Verify.
    • Your employer’s E-Verify Company Identification Number.
    • Form I-983
    • Form I-765
    • Two passport pictures
    • OPT 24-Month Extension Form
    • $410 Fee: check or money order payable to Department of Homeland Security
    • Copy of previous Employment Authorization Card.
    • Submit paperwork to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) with a prepaid return envelope (Express Mail or DHL)
  • Authorization:
    • A STEM OPT Form I-20 will be issued to you.
    • Upon USCIS’s approval of your request for STEM OPT Extension, you will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
    • If filed in a timely manner, you can continue working for up to 180 days before the arrival of your new EAD card.

Validating SEVIS Record

STEM OPT beneficiaries are expected to make sure that every six (6) months their SEVIS record is up to date.

Central expects all STEM OPT beneficiaries to completeSTEM OPT Report Formevery 6 months even when there are no material changes with employer or self. Material change include but is not limited to:

  • Change of Employer
  • Change of Employer EIN
  • Change of Employer address
  • Change to hours/week of work schedule and leaving objectives
  • Change in your legal name
  • Change in your residential mailing address

Material change notification must be completed within 10 days of occurrence.

Submit all updated STEM OPT Report Form to ayenio@ccsu.edu


  • OPT takes about three (3) months to process.
  • OPT Employer Information
  • Apply during your last semester.
  • 90 Days Rule: There should not be an accumulation of 90 days of unemployment during 12 month period of OPT.
    • Work in field of major.
    • Can work for one/more employer.
    • Can start your own business in field of study with proper business documents and work full time.
    • Volunteer with proper documentation (At least 20 hours/week).
  • Required to report:
    • Employer name and address within 10 days of employment.
    • Employer name change.
    • Your Address change.
  • OPT Extension
    • Employer must have E-Verify number.
    • Check eligibility on STEM list.
    • New OPT application.
    • Copy of diploma
    • Form I-983
  • H1B Cap-Gap Extension (for students on OPT with H1B applications approved/ pending).
    • Inform International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) about Cap-Gap Eligibility.
    • Provide I-797 Receipt for Approval Notice from USCIS.
    • A new Form I-20 will be issued with the Cap-Gap information

Contact Information

Oluwatoyin Awoderu
Associate Director
International Student & Scholar Services
Center for Africana Studies
Henry Barnard Hall