Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides F-1 students with an opportunity for hands-on work experience directly related to the academic field of study.
OPT used while you are still enrolled in your course of study, before your program end date, is called pre-completion OPT. Pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months of OPT eligibility, and most students prefer to save OPT for after program completion. If you participate in pre-completion OPT, USCIS will deduct that amount of time from your post-completion OPT authorization period. For example, if you participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT, you would be eligible for only up to 2 months of post-completion OPT.
OPT authorization that begins after completion of your academic program is called post-completion OPT. This is the most common type of OPT. If you are authorized for post-completion OPT, you may work part time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.
24-Month STEM OPT Extension
Students in their 12-month OPT authorization period, with a qualifying STEM degree and working for an E-Verify registered employer, may apply for a 24-month STEM extension of their OPT.
How to Apply
To apply for any OPT, an ASU PDSO or DSO has to recommend the OPT in SEVIS which will result in a new endorsement on the student’s Form I‑20. Students will then have to properly file the Form I-765 with USCIS, accompanied by the required fee, and supporting documentation as described in the form instructions.
- Students must apply after your PDSO/DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
- May apply up to 90 days before you complete a full academic year, as long as you do not start OPT employment until you complete one full academic year.
- Students must apply within 30 days of the PDSO/DSO entering the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
- May apply up to 90 days before you complete your degree, but no later than 60 days after you complete your degree
Students can only begin OPT after USCIS has approved your Form I-765, and you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
OPT Application Checklist
The following OPT application document check-list is for students applying for pre-completion or post-completion OPT. Students applying for the 24 month STEM extension need to speak to a PDSO/DSO.
- G-1145 e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. Use this form to request a text and/or email when USCIS accepts your I-765. Clip this form to the first page of your application package.
- Two US-style passport photos with your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo. Students can take passport photos at the Walgreens on Highway 160. Passport photos must meet the Department of State’s photo requirements detailed in the following link, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html
- Original and complete Form I-765
- If you do not have a permanent mailing address when filing your OPT application, you can provide the ASU mailing address Adams State University, Office of Admissions-PDSO, 208 Edgemont Blvd., Suite 2190, Alamosa CO 81101 which will minimize mailing issues if you move at any time during the USCIS processing.
- If applying for pre-completion OPT, use code (c)(3)(A) in line 27. If post-completion OPT, use (c)(3)(B).
- You are encouraged to type your answers within the I-765 PDF, but you must sign the form by hand and in black ink on page 4. Electronic signatures are not accepted by USCIS.
- Include a check or money order for the I-765 filing fee made payable to US Department of Homeland Security. Please review USCIS’s website for the filing fee amount at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765.
- If paying by check, do not use a starter check which does not contain one’s name and address printed on the top left corner of the check. Be sure to sign and date the check as well as put the I-94 number in the memo/”for” section. If the address is incorrect, do not cross out and change – leave it as is.
- Students who do not have a check with a name and address should use a money order. Make sure to write I-94 # on the money order. Do not write on the back of your check/money order.
- If paying filing fee by credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover), you must complete Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction and mail with your application.
- Copy of new I-20 containing a PDSO/DSO and your signature on page 1 and the OPT recommendation on page 2.
- Copy of I-94 record
- If you have an electronic I-94 record, obtain and print it at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov. If you still have a paper I-94, include a copy of the front and back of your I-94 card. The paper I-94 card is the white card typically stapled in the passport.
- Copy of the most recent F1 visa. Students who do not have a F1 visa because of changing status in the US should include a copy of the most recent visa and the I-797 verifying F-1 status approval. If you are a Canadian citizen, you may enclose a copy of your citizenship card or a birth certificate & a government-issued photo ID rather than a copy of the visa.
- Copy of the biographical page from your passport (with expiration date at least 6 months in the future or proof of application for a new passport).
- If applicable, copies of any previous I-20 Forms with OPT or CPT authorizations listed. Note, your signature is expected to be listed on page 1 on all I-20 forms.
- If applicable, copies of any previous EAD cards for OPT.
- Mail documents to the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox accordingly based on USPS, FedEx, or UPS mailing:
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For FedEx or UPS :
Attn: NFB AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Note: Please make sure to make copies of all documents before sending your application packet to USCIS. You are responsible for ensuring that USCIS receives your OPT application documents within 30 days of your OPT recommendation by the PDSO/DSO in SEVIS. Feel free to bring your completed packet in for review by a PDSO/DSO before sending. Students are responsible for all fees associated with OPT applications.