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International Student Services

How to Apply for OPT

Understanding the Optional Practical Training application process


Optional Practical Training is a F-1 visa benefit that is used after graduation. If you are graduating this Spring semester, you can apply for OPT 90 days from your I-20 end date. 

1.  Watch the OPT Workshop as your first step. This video explains the basics of Optional Practical Training and the application process. Review this OPT application guide as you watch the workshop. 

2. Review and complete the OPT Request Form found on the ISS Website. Use the ISS online chat if you have questions while preparing the OPT Request Form.

3. Submit the OPT Request Form starting 90 days from the end date on the I-20, to For example, if your I-20 ends on 5/8/2021, you may start submitting your OPT Request Form on February 8, 2021.

4. After 5 business days, you will receive your new OPT I-20 from an ISS advisor. Now it's time to prepare your documents to mail to USCIS. Page three of the OPT Request Form includes a check list with further guidance on how to mail your application and links to the correct forms to use. Be sure to check over your application packet thoroughly before sending it.

Note:  The forms, fees, and address have changed recently. Please always utilize the most up to date ISS forms found here as they may be updated or changed since the last time you accessed them.

5. Mail your application to USCIS and wait for their response. The processing time is often months; patience is important! You can check your case status on the USCIS website.

6. After you receive your EAD card and begin working on OPT, be sure to update your employer information and new address on the SEVP portal. 


ISS Forms Library
Did you know that ISS keeps a library of forms for many of the employment and immigration application needs? Be sure to check this list when you are ready to complete a form. 

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