Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- 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.
- 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 "date issued" on the OPT I-20. Late applications will be denied. It is your responsibility to mail the application to USCIS.
- 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 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.
Step 1: Pay the $30 OPT processing fee HERE. (Effective starting Spring Semester 2020.)
Step 2: Request your OPT I-20. Click on the "Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) Here" button below and complete all items.
Step 3: Prepare all USCIS application items (listed below).
Step 4: File all USCIS application items with USCIS within 30 days of the "date issued" on the OPT I-20.
Step 5: Follow all other Requirements in OPT listed below to maintain your F1 status.
USCIS Application Items:
- Check, money order, or credit card payment to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” for the Form I-765 filing fee
- Form I-765 (Find form and follow all form instructions HERE)
- Type or use black ink
- Enter “N/A” or “none” in any blank fields
- Note: Use Part 6. Additional Information to provide all previously used SEVIS numbers and evidence of any previously authorized CPT or OPT and the academic level at which it was authorized per Form I-765 instructions.
- Two new passport photos (ie. Not the same as your current passport or visa.)
- Print full name and I-94 number on back of each photo.
- Put in envelope and staple to application.
- Copy of signed I-20 with OPT recommendation
- Copy of all previous I-20s
- Most recent I-94 card
- Copy of passport bio page, F1 visa, and most recent entry stamp
- Copy of state driver’s license, state ID, student ID, and any previous EADs (if applicable)
- Paperclip Form G-1145 (E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance) on top of stapled application materials (optional)
- File your application with USCIS lockbox based on the state where your I-765 mailing address is located.
- MN mailing addresses use (send by USPS certified mail):
- PO Box 21281
- Phoenix, AZ 85036
- If your mailing address is outside of MN, find the correct USCIS address at the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/forms-information/uscis-phoenix-and-dallas-lockbox-facilities
Note: If you have already started a request, do not start a new request. Please go to your User Home Page to continue working on your request.
Requirements in OPT:
Requirement 1: 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 2: Review your EAD for accuracy. If you notice any errors, contact ISS. We can advise you on how to request the corrected EAD.
Requirement 3: Accumulate less than 90 days of unemployment during your 12-month OPT period. If you accumulate over 90 days of unemployment, you have lost F1 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.