Post-completion OPT is Optional Practical Training you use after finishing your program of study. Remember, OPT is employment that is directly related to your major field of study and is only for students in F-1 status.
When to apply
The earliest you can apply is 90 days prior to your completion date (see “Program of Study” section for I-20s issued 6/29/15 and later). The latest you can apply is 4 weeks after you complete your degree requirements to allow for adequate processing time. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not accept applications received 60 days or more beyond the completion date.
CHOOSING YOUR START DATE
The earliest start date you can request is the day after you complete all requirements for your program of study. The latest start date you can request is 60 days after you complete all your requirements. For example, if you complete your program requirements on May 20, the earliest start date you can request is May 21 and the latest start date you can request is July 19.
How to apply
Here’s an overview of the entire process:
Read all the steps in this process carefully. Once you've done that, download and complete the OGS F-1 OPT recommendation form. Then gather and prepare all the items you need for your OPT application.
Attend and watch the OPT workshop
Get tips on making a successful OPT application and reminders on what you need to do while you are on OPT to maintain your F-1 status. You can either watch the online post-completion OPT workshop OR attend an in-person workshop with an OGS advisor listed on our Events Calendar.
Download and complete the OGS F-1 OPT Recommendation Form.
Fill out the top half of the form and ask your academic advisor, dean, department chair or program coordinator to fill out the bottom half of the form. For help on completing the form, see the OPT Recommendation Form explained.
Gather and prepare these items for your OPT application:
- A check or money order for $380 made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If paying by check, be sure that your name and address are pre-printed on it. If you have to hand write in either your name or address on the check then we recommend getting a money order instead.
- A completed Form I-765; Be sure to review our I-765 explained so that you fill out the form correctly. It’s best to type your information into the form, print it, then sign it in blue ink.
- A completed Form G-1145.
- Photocopies of all your previously issued I-20s; include I-20s from previous schools if applicable. You will also need to include a photocopy of the new I-20 with the OPT recommendation on it (see Step 5). If you are missing any I-20(s), review these instructions.
- A photocopy of your F-1 visa (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
- Your printed I-94 record, clearly indicating that you are in F-1 status
- A photocopy of your passport identification page, clearly indicating your passport name, nationality, date of birth, and the passport expiration date
- Two passport-style photographs (name, date of birth, I-94 card number and SEVIS number written on the back)
- Photocopies of any previously-issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if applicable.
Print out and sign the OPT Application Cover Letter along with a completed OPT Recommendation Form and copies (not originals) of all of your OPT application materials (see step 3) to the OGS reception desk. You must use the OPT Application Cover Letter as the cover sheet for your application. An OGS advisor will review your application and issue your new I-20. This can take up to 10 business days to process. The OGS will send an email to your NYU email address when your new I-20 is ready.
Pick up your new I-20 at the OGS once you receive an email telling you that your new I-20 is ready. You will receive further instructions with your new I-20.
Once you have received an updated I-20 with the OPT recommendation, make sure to sign your new I-20 in section #11 of the document, photocopy pages 1 and 3 (or pages 1 and 2 for I-20s issued 6/29/15 and later), include the photocopy of your new I-20 with the rest of your OPT application materials (Step 3) and make any suggested changes to your OPT application as recommended by an OGS advisor.
• Incomplete or incorrect applications can cause serious delays so go over the checklist one more time and make sure you’ve included everything.
• Make sure to include the original check / money order, original photos and original I-765. Everything else should be a copy.
• Keep a photocopy of your complete OPT application for your records.
Send your application to USCIS by FedEx or UPS. USCIS must receive it within 30 days of the date your I-20 was issued.
Mail your application to:
USCIS, Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
Receive an electronic receipt from USCIS within 2-3 weeks and a paper receipt within 3-5 weeks.
Check your status
• Once you get your receipt notice, check your case status with your receipt number at www.uscis.gov.
• Your approval notice and EAD (OPT card) should arrive within 3 months.
Let us know
• if you do not receive both receipts within these timelines
• if you notice any mistakes on your EAD
• if you get a denial or request for more information from USCIS
If you don't already have a Social Security number, you must have one to get paid. Once you are authorized for OPT, submit your application for a Social Security number. Learn more about how to apply for a Social Security number.
Got a job while on OPT? Did you move? Congratulations! You now need to let us know.
Notify the OGS
Complete this OPT reporting form within ten days of any of the following:
- change in legal name,
- change in mailing or residential address,
- change in employer (supply name and address of the employer, as well as the start date of employment),
- deciding to depart the U.S permanently,
- return to school full time, or
- change of status.
- By filling out the reporting form you’re letting both OGS and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services know about your employment and/or address.
If you decide not to apply for or use your OPT, you must notify us. If you fail to notify us, your ability to work in the U.S. in the future could be denied.
Keep track of your days
You must not be unemployed for more than 90 days in total during post-completion OPT. In order to be considered “employed” while on post-completion OPT you need to work an average of 20 hours per week. Volunteer or unpaid positions count as employment for OPT as long as the position is in your major field of study.
Keep a record
Keep a record of any and all OPT activity, including the position held, dates of the position, supervisor name, organization name and location, and description of activity for your own records.