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OPT Application Process

Applying for OPT is a multi-step process that involves working with your academic department, OIS, and USCIS. The full process can take 3-5 months so we generally recommend that students begin applying early. As students must be in F-1 status when submitting their OPT application, students must be physically present in the United States when submitting their I-765 to USCIS*. Students may not apply for OPT earlier than 90 days before their program end date. USCIS must receive a completed application (including correct fee and I-20 with an OPT recommendation) by the end of a students’ 60 day grace period but no later than 30 days from the date the OPT I-20 is issued by OIS. Students can apply for OPT via the online I-765 application or via the mail-in paper application. Resources for both application methods are available below.

*If you plan on leaving the United States during your grace period, please ensure that you have received a receipt notice (Form I-797C) from USCIS before leaving the country. Failure to do so may result in the loss of ability to apply for OPT.

Application Timeline

Students may not apply for OPT earlier than 90 days before their program end date. USCIS must receive a completed application (including correct fee and I-20 with an OPT recommendation) by the end of a students’ 60 day grace period but no later than 30 days from the date the OPT I-20 is issued by OIS. OIS will begin accepting requests for OPT authorized I-20s no more than 100 days before the student’s end date and will not issue the I-20 until the student is eligible to apply for OPT on the 90th day. As applications can take 3-5 months to process with USCIS (without premium processing), we recommend that students apply early. For more information about premium processing, please click here.

Program end date: May 04, 2024

Graduation date: May 04, 2024

First day student can submit to OIS: January 25, 2024

First day student can apply to USCIS: February 4, 2024*

Last day student can apply to USCIS: July 3, 2024

*OIS is not open on Sundays, so we will begin issuing I-20s on February 5, 2024.

Application Process by Degree Level

You can find the OPT request forms in GlobalHome. As a part of this process, you will be asked to: 

  • Review informational slides and pass the accompanying quiz 
  • Complete all information in the request form, including choosing your requested OPT start date
  • Provide the name and email address of your academic advisor

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 you can proceed with submitting your OPT application to USCIS. 

Please refer to the following resources to assist you in preparing your OPT application:

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

You can find the OPT request forms in GlobalHome.. As a part of this process, you will be asked to: 

  • Review informational slides and pass the accompanying quiz 
  • Complete all information in the request form, including choosing your requested OPT start date
  • Provide the name and email address of your program’s DGP

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 you can proceed with submitting your OPT application to USCIS. 

Please refer to the following resources to assist you in preparing your OPT application:

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

You can find the OPT request forms in GlobalHome.. As a part of this process, you will be asked to: 

  • Review informational slides and pass the accompanying quiz
  • Indicate which date you will be using for your program end date.
    • Students who have completed all of their program requirements except for thesis/dissertation are considered “All But Dissertation” or ABD. ABD students must enroll in the semester in which they are going to defend their thesis. ABD students have a few options when choosing their program end date for OPT purposes: graduation date for your final semester of enrollment, your defense date, a date prior to your defense date that is tied to a job offer letter.
      •   You can only use your defense date as your program end date if your defense date falls during the semester dates. If your defense date falls during the intersession period, after the semester end date and before the no-registration deadline for the following semester, we will use the last day of your last semester of enrollment as your program end date.
      • ABD students are eligible to request a program end date prior to their defense date if they have a job offer that begins prior to their defense date. As part of the OPT application forms, a student applying for ABD OPT will be required to submit a job offer letter. Prior to requesting your OPT I-20, OIS recommends that you meet with your OIS Advisor and Academic/ Faculty Advisor to discuss your plan for completing your dissertation/thesis while working on OPT. 
    • Please note all on-campus employment must stop following your program end date. This means that you must stop any on-campus employment on your program end date. Please make sure to discuss your chosen program end date with your academic department prior to submitting your OPT application to OIS.
  • Complete all information in the request form, including choosing your requested OPT start date
  • Provide the name and email address of your program’s DGP and your academic advisor

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:

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

Additional Information About Applying for OPT

While OIS cannot select your requested OPT start date for you, we can provide some helpful tips to help guide your decision!

  • We recommend avoiding weekend and holiday dates for your requested OPT start date as many US employers will be operational on those days. 
  • Your requested start date must fall within your grace period (the 60 days following your program end date). You cannot use your program end date as your requested OPT start date. 
  • Do you already have a job offer? While you are not required to do so, many students with active offers will choose to use their offer letter start date as their requested OPT start date to avoid using unnecessary unemployment time. 
  • You may want to consider application processing times with USCIS when choosing your requested OPTstart date. For the most up to date information about USCIS processing times please click here
  • Remember that you have 90 days of unemployment during your OPT period and it is OK to use them! You do not need to have a job offer before applying for OPT or choosing your requested OPT start date. 
  • As long as your requested OPT start date is within your 60 day grace period there is no wrong answer! It is, however, important to keep in mind that once your application is submitted to USCIS you cannot change your start date and cannot begin work before your EAD card is in your hands and the start date on the card has passed

We are again allowing students to use OIS’s address as their mailing address for the I-765 application to USCIS if they have no other stable options. Full conditions and instructions are included in the OPT/ STEM OPT Mail Waiver, which you must complete should you use OIS’s mailing address.