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OPT - Optional Practical Training

Student Eligibility:
  • Must have maintained full-time enrollment for at least one academic year prior to OPT.
  • Full-time CPT (more than 20 hours/week) for 12 months at the same level (Bachelor's, Master's, etc.) cancels eligibility for OPT.
    • This includes any CPT done at your level at a school other than Concordia.
  • You can apply for OPT 90 days before your program completion date and up to 60 days after it.
    • Late applications will be denied. Ie. USCIS cannot receive your OPT application on the 61st day after your program completion date.
Things to Remember:
  • OPT can be work, an internship, or volunteering. It must be related to your major or program.
  • OPT must be full-time (more than 20 hours per week)
  • OPT must be completed within the 14-months following the completion of study.
    • Your program completion date will be the end date on your OPT I-20.
    • The OPT start date must be on or after (within 60 days) your program completion date. You choose your OPT start date.
      • If USCIS approves your OPT application after the start date you provided, the OPT start date on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be changed to the later date on which OPT was approved.
    • OPT is authorized for the dates on your EAD. The latest expiration date possible is 14 months after your program end date.
      • You must present your EAD to your employer before beginning work. You may not work or volunteer until you have the EAD in hand.
    • Typical USCIS processing time is 2 to 4 months. Apply early!
  • USCIS must receive your application no later than 30 days after the OPT request was processed in SEVIS. Late applications will be denied. 
  • You have 90 days from the start date on your EAD to find employment.
    • Report OPT Employment information, changes to your address, and changes to your phone number in the SEVP Portal within 10 business days. ISS does not update these for post-completion OPT students. ​
    • If you do not report your employer information or you are unemployed for 90 days while on OPT, you must depart the US immediately.
  • If you requested your Social Security Card with your I-765 and did not receive it, apply for a card at the Social Security Administration Office directly.
  • If your OPT employer changes, report the new information in the SEVP Portal so your SEVIS record can be updated.
  • If your OPT is denied, please contact ISS for more information.
  • Students are eligible for the 60-day grace period at the end of OPT. This time may be used to transfer to a new school or depart the US.
  • Students do not receive an additional grace period after the denial of an OPT application (post-completion or STEM).
    • The grace period allowed to the student would be the grace period from the end of the program, if the student is denied a post-completion OPT, or the end of the post-completion OPT, if the student is denied a STEM extension.
  • If your OPT employer does not provide health insurance, you may purchase your own plan. CSP does not enroll OPT students in health insurance.
    • If you would like to use CSP's health insurance partner, LewerMark, you may view their OPT eligible plan here
    • There is an icon for OPT/OPT STEM students to select for more information.
    • Please contact Matt Lewer at with any questions about OPT plans.
  • Pre-completion OPT vs post-completion OPT
    • Pre-completion OPT is only authorized in extremely rare cases.
    • Pre-completion OPT will only be authorized when undergraduate students have an eligible training opportunity and no CPT course available in their program.
    • A student who still has coursework remaining to complete his or her educational objective or degree program is limited to 20 hours per week of pre-completion optional practical training while school is in session.
      • Such a student can, however, apply for full-time authorization during his or her annual vacation, and during other official school breaks.
    • Talk to your immigration advisor for more information.
How to Apply for OPT:
Step 1:
Pay the $30 OPT processing fee HERE.
Step 2: To request an OPT I-20, click on the "OPT Request"  that can be found in the “Control Center” section of the request page
Step 3: File all USCIS application items with USCIS within 30 days from the day your OPT I-20 is processed. You must sign the Student Attestation section on your I-20.
  • Contact ISS for a new OPT I-20 if you cannot meet this timeline.
Step 4: Follow all other Requirements in OPT (listed below) to maintain your F-1 status.

What To Know Before Applying With USCIS:
  • Information about Fees: Form I-765 filing fee
  • ​"When you file your form online, the system will guide you through the process of paying your fees with a credit, debit, or pre-paid card. Bank account withdrawals are also available when paying online. Once you are ready to submit your form, the system will automatically direct you to the secure Department of Treasury site,, to pay your fees online"
  • Before submitting your online application, feel free to download the summary of your I-765 Form and send it to your Immigration Advisor for review.  
  • The code for post-completion OPT is (c)(3)(B)
  • A passport photo (ie. Not the same as your current passport or visa.)
  • A signed I-20 with OPT recommendation (No older than 30 days from the day you received the OPT I-20!)
  • Most recent I-94 form
    • Click on "Get Most Recent I-94" to look up your form
  • Copy of passport bio page, F-1 visa
  • Copy of state driver’s license, state ID, student ID, and any previous EADs (if applicable)
File Your Application with USCIS:

Click here to view a step-by-step sample of how to file with USCIS: Sample I-765.

You can start your online application here.

Requirements in OPT:
Requirement 1: Check your email (the one listed in your SEVIS record) every day, and activate your SEVP Portal account.
  • SEVP will send you an email to activate your SEVP Portal account before or on your OPT start date.
  • You must open this email and follow the link to activate your SEVP Portal right away.
  • The link will expire, and ISS does not administer this link.
Requirement 2: Report OPT Employment information, changes to your address, and changes to your phone number in the SEVP Portal within 10 business days
  • ISS does not update these for post-completion OPT students. 
  • You may request an updated I-20 if you update employer information.
    • Click HERE to request updated I-20.
Requirement 3: Review your EAD for accuracy.
  • If you notice any errors, contact ISS. We can advise you on how to request the corrected EAD.
Requirement 4: Accumulate less than 90 days of unemployment during your 12-month OPT period.
  • If you accumulate over 90 days of unemployment, you have lost F-1 status and must depart the US immediately.
The information contained in this web site is not intended as, and does not serve as, legal advice. It is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Content is subject to change, and students are advised to consult an experienced U.S. immigration attorney for advice and further information. Neither Concordia University, St. Paul nor the Office of International Student Services is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this website, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.