Optional practical training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is hands-on, temporary employment directly related to your academic major. You become eligible for OPT once you have been enrolled full-time and maintained your status for at least one academic year.

You can receive up to 12 months of OPT authorization before or after you graduate. However, any periods of OPT that you work before you complete your program will be deducted from the OPT you qualify for after graduation. For example, if you work OPT part-time (20 hours a week or less) for two months before you complete your program, it counts as a one-month deduction from your post-graduation OPT eligibility.

OPT Application Process

Step 1: Make an appointment with your OISS advisor and bring these items to your meeting:

After reviewing your application materials, your OISS advisor will prepare a SEVIS I-20 recommending OPT.

Step 2: Send the documents listed below to the USCIS Lockbox or file online for approval to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You cannot begin legally working until the EAD has been issued by USCIS. The OPT application must be received by USCIS within 30 days after your OPT I-20 was issued.

  • Completed Form I-765
  • Check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security covering the required filing fee ($410). You can also pay by credit card by using Form G-1450.
  • Photocopy of Form I-20 with your OISS advisor's recommendation for OPT
  • Photocopy of Form I-94 (front and back)
  • Photocopy of passport and visa (photo page and expiration pages must be clear in copy)
  • Two passport-style photos taken within the last 30 days against a white background:
    • Full face, front view, eyes open without glasses
    • Full head from top of hair to bottom of chin
    • Head height should measure 1 inch to 1-3/8 inches
    • Head should be centered in the frame
    • Eye height should be between 1-1/8 and 1-3/8 inches from the bottom of the photo
    • No shadows on face or background
    • Write your name lightly in pencil on the back

Step 3: Make a copy of all of your documents, then mail the completed documents by certified mail. Review filing locations at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 to confirm the address where your application should be sent.

You can also elect to file your OPT application electronically. Visit https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 and follow the instructions.

Do not file your I-765 by mail or electronically before an OISS Adviser provides you with a new I-20 recommending OPT. Your failure to follow this may result in USCIS denying your OPT application.

If you have provided suitable identification (photo and bio page of passport, new visa stamp with photo or previous EAD with photo) with your application, your EAD will be sent by mail to the address you provided on Form I-765. If USCIS is not able to make an accurate identity match, your EAD will be sent to the USCIS office in Detroit or Port Huron and you will be notified where to pick it up.

Step 4: Submit a photocopy of your EAD to OISS, which is required by USCIS.

Please make sure you meet all reporting requirements for your OPT.

Frequently Asked Questions