F-1 OPT (Optional Practical Training) During Your Degree Program
Beginning 9AM Friday, March 10 through 11 AM Monday, March 13, you will not to be able to submit or upload any ISSO applications (including this one) as we conduct our Compass database migration. Do not worry, you will be able to submit applications again starting 12:00 PM Monday, March 13. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Before You Apply
You do not need a job offer to apply but if you don’t work you lose the time authorized for employment.
When You Can Use OPT
You may use OPT during and/or after your degree program if it is longer than one academic year (2 semesters). OPT during your program is referred to as Pre-Completion OPT in regulations.
Time Limits (Part-time and full-time)
You may work only for a certain number of hours.
- Part-time is 20 hours or less per week.
- Full-time is more than 20 hours per week.
OPT during the academic year is limited to part-time.
OPT during a summer vacation period may be part-time or full-time.
You have a maximum amount of OPT time
You get 12 months of OPT for each higher degree level you complete (Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD Degree).
If you’re a student in in certain STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), you may be eligible for an extension of OPT for an additional 24 months.
Pre-Completion OPT is deducted from the 12 month total at graduation.
Part-time OPT is deducted at half the rate.
When to Apply
You may apply for pre-completion OPT as early as 90 days before your requested start date. We encourage you apply as early as possible.
How to Apply
Submit your forms to the ISSO
Submit the forms below as a single PDF file to ISSOfirstname.lastname@example.org for processing:
Pick-up your OPT I-20
Allow up to 10 business days for us to review and process your application. We will notify you by email when your new I-20 with OPT recommendation is ready.
Mail your OPT application to USCIS via FedEx or UPS
Before mailing to USCIS, please do the following:
OPT Application Checklist (Send these to USCIS):
To avoid mailing problems, send your application by FedEx or UPS to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox facilities. If you list a mailing address on the I-765 in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania must send the application to:
USCIS, Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
If you live in: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia,
send your application to the Dallas lockbox.
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
If you live in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands,
send your application to the Phoenix lockbox.
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Receive your OPT approval and EAD Card
The OPT start date on your EAD card will be the date you requested or the date the EAD is processed, whichever is later. Contact us if you receive any other notice, such as a Request for Evidence (RFE), from USCIS.
Review the timeline below for more detail.
You can start working once you have your EAD card in hand and the start date has arrived. Apply for a Social Security Number if you do not have one already, on or after the start date on the EAD.
Keep a paper or electronic copy of all documentation pertaining to your immigration status, including current and expired passports. You may need them in the future to document your employment history and compliance with U.S. immigration regulations, or for future immigration or visa applications.
Pre-Completion OPT Travel Question
Yes, since you are currently enrolled and will return to the U.S. as a continuing student before the end of your program, your OPT application has no impact on your travel. It makes no difference whether the OPT application is pending or has already been approved--the OPT application is irrelevant.