Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training

Important Fall 2020 OPT Information

On October 2, the fee to file a Form I-765 with USCIS for OPT approval is increasing from $410 to $550. Applications postmarked on October 2 or after must have the new filing fee amount. If you are planning to submit your application to USCIS before the filing fee increases, you must submit your complete OPT request forms to OIS by September 16 in order to guarantee you will have your OPT I-20 by September 30.

Additionally, USCIS will begin using a new version of the Form I-765 on October 2. Applications postmarked on October 2 or after must use the 10/02/2020 version of the I-765. Any applications postmarked up until October 1 must use the 08/25/2020 edition of the I-765. Please refer to the table below to confirm that you are using the correct edition of the I-765 and filing fee amount.

Application Postmark DateI-765 Edition DateFiling Fee
October 1 or earlier08/25/2020$410
October 2 or later10/02/2020$550

OIS recommends avoiding mailing your application on October 1 or 2 in case there are delays or changes to your mailing process that end up with your application being postmarked on a day you do not intend it to be. Applications with the incorrect edition or filing fee will not be accepted for processing. You should monitor the mailing address that you put on your I-765 for a receipt notice confirming the receipt of your application for processing. If your application has not been accepted for processing and is sent back in the mail, contact OIS before responding as you may need to be issued a new I-20.

We conducted an optional online informational session for those applying for OPT in Fall 2020. You can view the recorded session below.


OPT Q&A sessions are held online every Tuesday at 1:00PM and Thursday at 10:00AM. Join the session through the following link: https://ncsu.zoom.us/j/382010825 

Participants are invited to ask their questions through a group chat function, and the advisor will talk through these questions with everyone in virtual attendance. All participants will be able to hear each question, so if you have a lengthy question or a question of a personal nature, please make an appointment with your advisor. Please note that the Q&A sessions are optional and there is no set presentation; the Q&A sessions just provide an opportunity for students to talk with OIS advisors about any OPT questions they may have.


How to Apply for OPT:

  1. Complete the OPT Application form and gain all necessary signatures. We will accept electronic signatures on the application form. 
  2. Review the OPT Online Session and complete the quiz at the end of the session
  3. Receive an email from OIS confirming you passed the quiz
  4. Go to go.ncsu.edu/ois-opt-form and complete the Post-Completion OPT Request forms. You will upload a pdf of the quiz results email and your OPT Application form in this process.

An OIS advisor will review your materials and email you if anything is missing. Otherwise, you can expect to receive an email from OIS within 10 business days containing a scanned copy of your new, OPT I-20. With this I-20 copy, you can proceed with mailing your OPT application to USCIS. Please refer to the following resources to assist you in preparing your OPT application:

Please note that with the COVID-19 situation in flux, OIS cannot guarantee that there will not be an interruption in our mail service. Therefore, OIS cannot be used as the mailing address for your OPT application to USCIS.

And don’t forget, if you still have questions, feel free to join an OPT Q&A before you mail your application to USCIS!


Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of employment authorization for students in F-1 status who wish to engage in off-campus employment in their field of study during and/or after their course of study. No job offer is necessary to apply, but students must meet the eligibility requirements and obtain a new Form I-20 from OIS with an OPT recommendation before being able to apply. Students submit their applications to the USCIS, and USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the student. This EAD authorizes the student to engage in temporary employment in their major field of study for up to 12 months anywhere in the US. Most F-1 students at NC State University wish to take advantage of this benefit and will apply for their EAD 2 to 3 months before they graduate.

The OPT approval process generally takes around 3-5 months after it has been receipted by USCIS. Students should consult USCIS’s Case Processing Times for the most up to date information regarding processing times and eligibility for submitting case inquiries. Students/graduates are not legally eligible to begin employment under OPT until the EAD is approved and in the hands of the student AND the start date for employment falls within the validity dates of the EAD. It is the responsibility of the student to apply early enough to the OPT approved and the EAD in-hand to meet the desired employment start date. Students who apply for OPT less than 90 days before their program completion run the risk of not having the EAD before they graduate. In some cases, they put themselves in the position on being ineligible for employment for many weeks after they have completed their program. Students should apply for OPT as early as possible in their final term of enrollment at NC State.   OIS is not involved in the processing of any petitions filed with USCIS. Any questions regarding the inquiry process need to be sent to USCIS.