Are you graduating in Fall 2022? If so, now is the time to apply for Optional Practical Training!
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment benefit for students with F-1 status. OPT authorizes students to work in the United States for up to 12 months after graduation to gain practical experience in their major field of study.
OPT Application Timeline: Apply Early
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes 3-5 months to process OPT applications. So it’s important to take this processing time into account as you plan for your post-graduation employment. The earliest you can apply for OPT is up to 90 days before your graduation date.
If you are graduating in Fall 2022, here are the key dates you need to know:
- Sept. 12 is the earliest date you may submit your OPT request to ISSS. See the instructions below on how to do this.
- Sept. 19 is the earliest date you can file your application with USCIS.
- Feb. 15 (the end of your 60-day grace period following graduation) is the latest date you can file your application with USCIS. If you file after this date, your OPT will be automatically denied.
The above dates apply to all bachelor’s and master’s students and most Ph.D. students. Ph.D. students may have additional options for application dates and can learn more by reviewing our OPT Website and the OPT modules in myIO.
How to Apply for OPT:
1. Review the OPT page on the ISSS website.
2. Visit myIO to complete the OPT modules.
3. Charge and pay the OPT Administrative Fee in myIO.
4. Submit the OPT Request form via myIO.
5. Upload the following documents to your OPT request:
- Graduation letter
- Completed I-765 Form
- Passport bio data page
- I-94 form
- Copy of your F-1 visa (or most recent entry visa)
- Copy of all previous EAD cards (if applicable)
6. Wait 10 business days (not including weekends or holidays) for an ISSS advisor to issue your OPT I-20.
7. Obtain your OPT I-20 from ISSS.
8. File your OPT application (including the OPT I-20) with USCIS.
You have two options for filing: 1) Mail with secure tracking; or 2) File online (via e-filing). Read more about online filing in our OPT Frequently Asked Questions.
No Appointment Needed!
The ISSS website and modules provide all the information you need at each stage of the OPT application process, including how to submit your application to USCIS. When you’re ready to apply for OPT, simply follow the steps listed above.
If you still have questions after reviewing the ISSS website and modules, then attend one of the Q&A sessions listed below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can’t attend.
Note that ISSS advisors will not process OPT requests during advising appointments.
Questions? Attend an “Ask an Advisor” OPT Q&A Session
If you have questions after reviewing the OPT modules in myIO, join one of our upcoming “Ask an Advisor” sessions. An international student advisor will answer your questions about OPT.
Sept. 19, 2022
Sept. 27, 2022
Avoid OPT Denial!
Here are a couple of tips to prevent your OPT application from being denied by USCIS:
- Do not submit anything to USCIS, either by mail or online, until you have received your OPT I-20 from ISSS. The OPT I-20 (with “OPT Requested” on page 2) is an essential part of your OPT application to USCIS. If you submit an OPT application to USCIS without the OPT I-20, your OPT application will be denied.
- Understand your filing deadline. If USCIS receives your application even one day late, it will be automatically denied. USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days of ISSS issuance of your OPT I-20 or by Feb. 15 – whichever is EARLIER.
The OPT program is a great way to get solid work experience in your field, so apply as soon as you can. Good luck!
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