Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Overview

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to gain work experience related to their field of study. In order to apply to OPT, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Maintain valid F-1 status
  • Be enrolled in a full course of study for a minimum of one academic year (or will complete one academic year by the start date of your OPT)
  • Do not exceed 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Part0time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility. 

F-1 students are eligible for 12 monthsof full-time OPT per academic level. This means you may apply for 12 months of OPT at the bachelor's degree level and another 12 months of OPT at the master's degree level.

You may apply for Pre-Completion OPT (part-time while school is in session and up to full-time during school breaks) or Post-Completion OPT (full-time after completion of your course of study).

Part-time OPT (20 hours or less per week) will be deducted from the 12-month total at one-half of the full-time rate. OPT authorization is terminated when a student transfers to another school or begins a new academic program. 

Students who complete a degree program in certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields may be eligible for an OPT extension. The application for an OPT STEM Extension can be filed up to 90 days prior to the completion of the initial 12-month period of OPT. Click here for a list of qualifying majors. 

WHEN TO APPLY FOR OPT

Your OPT application may reach U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as early as 90 days before your program end date or as late as 60 days after your program end date. However, you are strongly encouraged to apply 90 days prior to your program end date as this is the typical USCIS processing time. 

Your OPT application must arrive at USCIS within 30 days of the issuance of your new I-20 recommending OPT; otherwise, your application will be denied. Additionally, failure to apply in a timely manner may result in a loss of your full 12 months of Post-Completion OPT as it must be completed within 14 months of your program completion date. 

VIEW the OPT TIMELINE

Please Note: You do not need a job offer letter to apply for OPT. Also, you will not be authorized to work until you have received your OPT approval and have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) in hand. 

HOW TO APPLY FOR OPT

Please read the following instructions carefully. While Mount Union staff will assist you in the application process, we do not have the authority to influence the decision or to expedite the processing time. 

The required OPT application materials are listed below. Once you have gathered all of these materials, please schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Sara Randrianasolo in the Office of International Recruitment and Admissions to review your application. A new I-20, recommending you for OPT, will then be processed. 

OPT Application Materials

  1. OPT Recommendation Form
  2. USCIS Form I-765   (Instructions for Form I-765)
  3. Filing fee of $380.  The check must be payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and should be dated no more than 30 days prior to the date your application you expect your application to reach USCIS.  Personal checks, bank checks, or money orders are acceptable; starter checks will be rejected.  The date format for your check should be as follows: month/day/year.
  4. 2 Passport-sized (2-inch by 2-inch) photos.  Photos should be recently taken (photos previously used in your visa application will be rejected.)  Write your name, date of birth, and I-94 number on the back of each photo with a pencil.
  5. Your I-20 recommending OPT (to be processed after all other application materials are submitted).
  6. Copies of all previous I-20s.
  7. A copy of the biographical page (including expiration date) of your passport.
  8. A copy of your most recent F-1 visa.
  9. A copy of your I-94 card or online printout.
  10. Optional: Completed Form G-1145 (signs you up for USCIS email/text message notification)
  11. A job offer letter, if applicable.  This allows for expedited processing, but is not a required part of your application.

Mailing Instructions

You are responsible for mailing your OPT application packet.  You must submit your application to USCIS within 30 days of receiving your new I-20 recommending OPT.  Late applications will be denied.  Do not mail your original passport, I-94 card, or I-20s.  

It is recommended that you use USPS certified mail and request a return receipt.  Once USCIS has received your application, you will be issued an I-797C, Notice of Action, which will include a Receipt Number.  You may use your Receipt Number to check the status of your application here

If you live in:

Mail your application to:

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.

USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

USCIS
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

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

USCIS Dallas Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:

USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067 

If you have any questions about OPT, please contact Dr. Sara Randrianasolo in the Office of International Recruitment and Admissions:randrisr@mountunion.edu or 330-823-7493.

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