Are you graduating this semester? Do you plan to gain some U.S. work experience in your field after you graduate? Now is the time to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)!
Why should I apply for OPT now?
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can take several months to approve OPT, so we recommend applying as early as possible. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.
How do I apply for OPT?
First, you will need to obtain a graduation letter (see requirements on our OPT page, under “Applying for OPT”). Next, complete the OPT modules in myIO to request an OPT I-20 (myIO > F-1 Practical Training > OPT Request).
Once ISSS reviews and approves your request, we will email you your OPT I-20 with instructions on how to then submit your application to USCIS. You can find the full instructions on our website and in our OPT modules in myIO.
OPT Best Practices
- Apply as soon as possible!
- Do not submit anything to USCIS (either by mail or online) until you have received your OPT I-20.
- Read our OPT page in full. There is a lot to know about OPT, and our website will tell you what you need to know.
- Once you receive your OPT I-20 from ISSS, apply to USCIS as soon as possible! Don’t delay this step. USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days of the issuance of your OPT I-20 by ISSS. Keep in mind you need to account for mailing time.
- When mailing your application to USCIS, use a secure, fast mailing method with tracking. We do not recommend using regular mail.
- You can also choose to file your OPT application online instead of by mail. Please review the pros and cons of applying online on our OPT page, under “OPT Frequently Asked Questions.”