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Optional Practical Training (OPT)


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 "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. ‚Äč
    • 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.
  • 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.
How to Apply for OPT:
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.
  • Contact ISS for a new OPT I-20 if you cannot meet this timeline.
Step 5: Follow all other Requirements in OPT (listed below) to maintain your F-1 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
    • See instructions for paying USCIS fees HERE
    • If paying by credit card, use Form G-1450
  • Form I-765 (Find form and follow all form instructions HERE)
    • Type or use black ink
    • The code for post-completion OPT is (c)(3)(B)
    • 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 first and last name and I-94 number on back of each photo
    • Put in envelope and attach to application
  • Copy of signed I-20 with OPT recommendation
  • Copy of all previous I-20s
  • 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, 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 application materials (optional)
USCIS Filing Addresses:
U.S. Postal Service (USPS): (Ask to send with a tracking number)
USCIS
PO Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Note: If you have already started a request for the current term, please go to your User Home Page to continue working on your request. Do not start a new request.

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 within a week of 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.