Optional Practical Training & Employment Authorization
This packet may be used by:
F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT)
F-1 students seeking employment due to severe Economic Hardship
J-2 spouses or minor children of J-1 Exchange Visitors
OPT application processing takes up to 90 days and must be submitted before
Once you have gathered these materials and completed the USCIS form, meet with
your DSO. Your DSO will review your paperwork and eligibility for work, make the
necessary adjustments in SEVIS, and issue you a new
I-20 with your OPT
application noted on page 3. PLEASE MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. Processing
time is approximately 30 minutes.
The following documents and materials are necessary when applying for Optional Practical training
and Employment Authorization:
Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization”
2. USCIS processing fee of $175. Make check or money order payable to “United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services.” No cash will be accepted.
3. Two passport photos taken according to attached instructions
4. Photocopy of any previous EAD card issued to you
5. Photocopy of your I-94 card (front and back)
6. Photocopy of passport and visa (Canadians may include a copy of driver’s license in place of
7. F-1 students only: Photocopy of all current and previous I-20 forms
8. J-2 dependents only: Photocopy of DS-2019 and bank statements to show that employment is
not necessary to support J-1 exchange visitor
KEEP PHOTOCOPIES OF EVERYTHING MAILED TO USCIS.
After you submit your application …. Immigration approval for OPT is given by the United States Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS). Approximately 2 weeks after mailing your application, you will receive a “Notice of
Action” from USCIS saying that your application has been received. Keep this notice for your records. When your
application is approved, USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). This, along
with your new OPT-notated I-20, is your permission to reside and work in the United States between the dates
specified plus a 60-day grace period after it expires. If you have not yet received your Employment Authorization
Document (EAD card) 90 days after the date on the notice, you may apply for a temporary EAD card at a local
USCIS office using your Notice of Action and new I-20.
AFTER YOU HAVE GRADUATED, DO NOT LEAVE THE UNITED STATES UNTIL YOU
HAVE TALKED WITH YOUR DSO ABOUT RE-ENTRY REQUIREMENTS. IF YOU
LEAVE WITHOUT PROPER DOCUMENTATION, YOU COULD BE DENIED ENTRY TO
THE UNITED STATES AND LOSE YOUR OPT AUTHORIZATION.