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International Student Service Center

OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)



Preliminary Requirements

  • Apply for graduation at the Registrar's Office.
  • Go to the Academic Advisement Office and let the Academic advisor fill out the Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form
  • Present the endorsed Registrar's receipt and the letter mentioned above to our office in order to obtain the application package.

Step One: ISSC Process

The following documents are needed by the ISSC to process an application for optional practical training and issue the OPT SEVIS I-20:

What should your OPT start date be? That depends on your future plans. Optional Practical Training must begin no later than 60 days following your semester end date.

Possible Start Dates for OPT

FALL 2016 GRADUATES

Semester End Date: 12/21/2016   

 Earliest possible OPT Start Date: 12/22/2016  Last possible OPT Start Date: 02/20/2017

Winter 2017 GRADUATES

Semester End Date: 01/24/2017

 Earliest possible OPT Start Date: 01/25/2017  Last possible OPT Start Date: 03/26/2017

SPRING 2017 GRADUATES

Semester End Date: 05/26/2017   

Earliest possible OPT Start Date: 05/27/2017  Last possible OPT Start Date: 07/26/2017

SUMMER 1 2017 GRADUATES

Semester End Date: 07/13/2017   

Earliest possible OPT Start Date: 07/14/2017  Last possible OPT Start Date: 09/12/2017

SUMMER 2 2017 GRADUATES

Semester End Date: 08/18/2017   

Earliest possible OPT Start Date: 08/19/2017  Last possible OPT Start Date: 10/18/2017

FALL 2017 GRADUATES

Semester End Date: 12/20/2017   

 Earliest possible OPT Start Date: 12/21/2017  Last possible OPT Start Date: 02/19/2018

You may choose any date between the Earliest and Last OPT start date

Step Two: USCIS Process

The applicant must send the following documents to USCIS:

  • Original I-765.
  • Copy of the current SEVIS I-20 endorsed by the ISSC -  with OPT authorization indicated on the 2nd page
  • Copies of all your previous I-20's - for the new I-20 format send copies of the 1st & 2nd pages, and for the previous I-20 format send copies of the 1st & 3rd pages
  • Copy of the passport identification page
  • Copy of your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record - retrieve your electronic I-94 number via www.cbp.gov/I94
  • Copy of any previously approved employment authorization cards (front and back)
  • Application Fee (check or money order) - Applicants must pay a fee of $380.00 to file this form. Starting December 23rd, 2016, the application fee will be $410.
  • Two recent photos, each with your name and  I-94 number lightly printed with pencil on the back

STEM Degree OPT Extension

Documents to be submitted to ISSC to obtain STEM Extension OPT I-20:

  • Original Form I-765
  • Form I-983 (Form I-983 Instructions)
  • Official Transcripts
  • Copy of your degree diploma
  • Application Fee (check or money order) - Applicants must pay a fee of $380.00 to file this form. Starting December 23rd, 2016, the application fee will be $410.
  • Make sure the company is E-Verify - obtain your employer's name and identification number as listed in the U.S. government's "E-Verify" Program. This infomation in required on the Form I-765.

Once you receive the STEM Extension Form I-20 from ISSC, please mail the following documents to USCIS:

  • Copy of the STEM Extension Form I-20
  • Original Form I-765
  • Official school transcript
  • Copy of your degree diploma
  • Copy of valid employment authorization card- EAD (front and back)
  • Application Fee (check or money order) - Applicants must pay a fee of $380.00 to file this form. Starting December 23rd, 2016, the application fee will be $410.

*Application for Stem Extension must be submitted prior to the expiration of the EAD Card.

Please do not mail the OPT application package to the USCIS until you receive your
SEVIS I-20 from ISSC with the recommended OPT dates indicated on the second page!

Where to file?

If you live in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania, mail your application to:

For express mail and courier deliveries:

USCIS

ATTN: AOS

2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX 75067

For U.S. Postal Service delivery (regular U.S. mail):

USCIS

PO Box 660867

Dallas, TX 75266

Application Information

A student in F-1 status may apply up to 90 days before and up to 60 days after the completion date.  Students MUST mail the completed OPT application packet within 30 days of the creation of the OPT I-20 with OPT recommendation on page 2.  Program completion refers to the date that you have finished all coursework and any project/thesis/dissertation for your degree. It is not your graduation date.

 The application must  be received by USCIS  no later than 60 days after the completion date - if even 1 day late the application can be denied.

Optional practical training is limited to a total of 12 months. Students in certain “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields may be eligible for a one-time extension of 24 months of post completion OPT.  There is a separate application for filing for this extension.  Please speak with an advisor from the ISSC if you feel you may qualify for the extension. 

Processing information

An application filed without the required fee, all the necessary documents, signature and photographs will be returned to you as incomplete. You may correct the deficiency and resubmit the application, however, an application is not considered properly filed until the USCIS accepts it. If your application is complete and filed at a USCIS Service Center, you will be mailed a Notice of Action Form I-797, receipt notice.

Decisions on your application

a) Approval:

If approved, your EAD card will be mailed to you at your filed address.

b) Request for further information:

If additional information or documentation is required, a written request will be sent to you requesting further specific information.

c) Denial:

If your application cannot be approved, you will receive a written notice explaining the basis of you denial. You can file a “motion to reopen.”

Time

The estimated processing time is 60 to 90 days. Processing times may vary on the USCIS workload. Employment may NOT commence until you have obtained approval from the USCIS and you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.

                                       Student Responsibilities while on OPT

Students are required to report the following to the ISSC within 10 days:

  • The beginning of employment, with the name and address of the employer.
  • The termination of employment.
  • Any change in your personal address.
  • Any change in your employers Address.

Upon beginning/termination of employment you MUST complete the OPT Employment Reporting Form.

Employment and Unemployment

An offer of employment is not required to obtain approval for OPT. OPT is recommended by the International Student Service Center (ISSC), and authorized by the USCIS.  During OPT NO student may be unemployed for an aggregate of more than 90 days* or their status will be in jeopardy.  *For STEM students approved for the 24 month extension the limit on unemployment is raised to an aggregate of no more then 150 days.

Options for Students Unable to Find Employment

Students who are unable to find full-time employment may look to the alternative options listed below to avoid reaching the aggregate 90 day unemployment limit (120 for STEM extension):

Student’s may:

Volunteer for a Company                                                                                                                            Complete an Unpaid Internship                                                                                                                 Work Part-Time

For these options the student must work a minimum of 20 hours per week.  Please note that students must still report to the ISSC the beginning of these employment options, and also the termination.  Also please remember that the employment MUST be related to your field of study. 

NOTE:  Students should keep records of their entire employment history!

Studying while on OPT

Students on OPT who plan to transfer to another college or university in the United States during or within 60 days after completing OPT must inform the International Student Service Center and provide proof of acceptance to the new school so that we can perform the appropriate “transfer out” process in SEVIS . Authorization for OPT is automatically terminated when you transfer your SEVIS record to another school or begin full-time study at a different educational level.

Traveling During OPT

The DHS and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) agree that an F-1 student who has timely filed an application for OPT post-completion of study may travel outside the United States while the OPT application is pending, provided that the F-1 student can present the Notice of Action Form I-797, proving that the application has been filed.

However, once the EAD card for OPT is issued to the F-1 student if a student decides to travel abroad, the student can only re-enter the United States to resume employment.  DHS has clarified that the F-1 student does not need to have already begun actual employment before leaving, as long as the student has a job offer for which he/she is returning to commence employment.

If you are traveling outside the U.S. and your visa is VALID And OPT is PENDING, the documents you need to reenter the US are: 

  • SEVIS I-20 signed by the Designated School Officer at Baruch College
  • Unexpired passport
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • I 797 Receipt - proving that the OPT application was filed

 If you are traveling outside the U.S. and your visa is VALID And OPT is APPROVED, the documents you need to reenter the U.S. are:

  • SEVIS I-20 signed by the Designated School Officer at Baruch College
  • Valid EAD card
  • Unexpired Passport
  • Valid F-1 Visa
  • Letter from a U.S. based employer certifying that you are returning to resume or commence employment

If your visa expires:

If you are NOT planning to travel, it does not matter if your visa is valid or not. A visa is used to ENTER the U.S. and has no relation to how long you may stay.

If you are traveling outside the U.S. and your visa is EXPIRED then you must apply for a new F-1 visa in order to re-enter the U.S. Please note that the issuance of a visa is dependent on the U.S. consulate and is never guaranteed and often denied for students on OPT. It is AT YOUR OWN RISK to travel and apply for a new visa.

Note: If you enter the U.S. on another visa, such as a tourist visa, then it is illegal to use your OPT work authorization. You must obtain a new F-1 visa in order to use your OPT work authorization. You will not be able to change your status back to F-1 if you enter the U.S. with a different visa.