This page provides detailed instructions on how to fill out the I-765 if you are applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) by mail. If you instead wish to file the I-765 for OPT online, we have a separate resource for that.

The information contained on this page is for general information purposes only. Due to frequent government updates, NYU OGS may make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on this page at any time without prior notice.

Please note, these directions are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services ultimately provides the decision on your OPT application. It is your responsibility, as the OPT applicant, to ensure that your OPT application is accurate and complete before you submit it to the US government. Incomplete applications could result in a delay in processing time or denial. NYU in no event shall be held liable for any delay, denial, or mistake on your OPT application.

Step 1: Prepare Your Supporting Documents for the OPT Application

Each document you print for your application should be single-sided. Gather and prepare these items for your OPT application:

  • Two passport-style photographs (name, date of birth, I-94 card number and SEVIS number written on the back). Photos must be taken within the last 30 days and cannot have previously been used for a passport, visa, or other US government-related application. You can get your passport photos at either the Manhattan or Brooklyn StudentLink Center with your active NYU ID card.
  • If submitting your application by mail, you must get a check or money order for $410 made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security. Please note, this fee increases to $520 effective April 1, 2024. 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. Write SEVIS ID on check/money order. Do NOT send your money order separate from the application the money order is for. Your money order should be included with your other application materials.
  • A completed Form G-1145.
  • A completed Form I-765 (more detailed information on completing the I-765 are listed below)
  • A photocopy of the new I-20 with the OGS OPT recommendation on it.
  • A photocopy of your F-1 visa (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
  • A photocopy of your passport identification page, clearly indicating your passport name, nationality, date of birth, and the passport expiration date
  • Your printed I-94 record, clearly indicating that you are in F-1 status
  • Photocopies of any previously-issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if applicable.

Students applying for STEM OPT must also include:

  • Official transcripts for the degree upon which your STEM OPT extension will be based. E-Transcripts from NYU are not allowed. Only an official paper transcript is accepted.
  • If your STEM OPT extension application is based on a previous STEM degree, include a transcript from your previous school. If you do not have an I-20 showing the CIP code from that school, you must also include documentation from that school indicating the CIP code for that program.

Students applying for STEM OPT should also note that you do NOT submit Form I-983 in your application to USCIS (this is only a document OGS is required by USCIS to keep on file).

Step 2. Complete the I-765 Form

The only items from the Form I-765 that are highlighted on this this page are those that students commonly have questions on or are confused about. Please review each item carefully to ensure your I-765 is filled out correctly. Each item discussed is highlighted in the image as to where it appears on the actual I-765 Form. Download the form using Chrome or Firefox and complete it in Adobe Acrobat on your digital device, print out, and sign in black ink only.

Part 1. Reason for Applying

Item 1:

Check the box “Initial permission to accept employment.” If you lost your EAD and are applying for a new card, select "replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged employment authorization document NOT DUE to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) error." If you are applying for STEM OPT, select "initial permission to accept employment."

Part 2. Information About You

Item 1:

Enter your family name first. Enter your first name second. Include your middle name if you have one. This name should match what is indicated on your passport. If you do not have a middle name, do NOT put N/A. Just leave it blank if you don't have a middle name.

Items 2-4:

Provide all other names you have ever used, including aliases, maiden name, and nicknames. Write “N/A” on all boxes if you haven’t used another name.

items 2 and 4

Item 5:

Enter your mailing address. This must be a US address and it should be valid until your OPT application is approved. If you believe you will change addresses within the next three months we recommend you instead list the address of a trusted friend or family member. If you choose to enter your friend’s or family member’s address, you must also include an “in care of” name for item 5.a. You may list a US Post Office address (PO Box) if you have one.

Item 6:

Do not leave this blank. Check either "Yes" or "No." Check "Yes" if your mailing address (where you would like your notices from USCIS to be sent to) is the same as your physical address (where you live). Check "No" if it is not the same. If you check "No," you must then complete Items 7.a. - 7.e. with the address where you live.

Items 8 and 9:

Leave these items blank.

Items 10 and 11:

Mark the box that best describes you. Do not leave them unchecked as they are questions that must be answered.

Item 12:

Select “Yes” if you have previously applied for OPT or ever submitted the I-765 for work authorization to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Select “No” if you have only ever worked on campus or been authorized for CPT, or if you have not previously worked.

If you select "Yes," you will also need to list each time you previously filed the Form I-765 in Part 6, page 7 of this Form I-765.

Item 13a:

If you have ever received a Social Security card previously you must check "Yes", if not, check "No".

Item 13b:

Only answer this question if you have a Social Security Number and checked “Yes” for item 13a.

Item 14:

Check "Yes" if you need a new Social Security card and/or number. If you previously had a Social Security Number issued to you but you lost your card, you should select "Yes." If you have never been issued a Social Security Number, you should select "Yes."

Check "No" if you previously had a Social Security Number issued to you AND you still have your Social Secuity card. Then skip to Part 2, Item Number 18a.

Item 15:

If you answered "Yes" to Item Number 14 and you wish to submit a simultaneous application for a Social Security card, you must also answer "Yes" to this item.

Items 16-17:

Only answer these questions if you do not have a Social Security card and checked "Yes" for items 14-15. By answering these questions you would be applying for a Social Security card with your Social Security number printed on it. Your SSN will be issued, and you will receive an SSN card within 2-4 weeks of your OPT application approval. You will not need to submit a separate application for an SSN to the Social Security Administration.

Item 18:

Type or print the name of the country or countries where you are currently a citizen or national. If you are a citizen or national of more than one country, type or print the name of the foreign country that issued your last passport. If you are a citizen of one country, item 18.b. should indicate "N/A".

Item 19:

Enter the City/Town/Village, then the State/Province, then the country where you were born.

Item 20:

Ensure you've written the date of your birth in MONTH/DAY/YEAR format.

Item 21a:

Enter your I-94 number

Item 21b:

List your most recent passport number.

Item 21c:

Write "none" in this section.

Item 21d:

Enter the country that issued your most recent passport.

Item 21e:

Write the date that your most recent passport expires. Be sure to enter it in the MONTH/DAY/YEAR format.

Item 22:

Enter the last date you entered the United States. For most of you this should be the date stamped in your passport.

Item 23:

Indicate city and state of your last arrival or entry into the US. This should be indicated by the three digit code stamped on your passport. For example, if you entered JFK, the stamp in your passport should indicate “NYC”. If you entered through Newark, the stamp on your passport should indicate “NEW”. If you went through a US customs location outside of the US, for example in Toronto or Abu Dhabi, list the location of the US customs location you went through.

Item 24:

Your status of last entry should be "F-1 Student."

Item 25:

Your current status should be F-1 Student.

Item 26:

Enter your SEVIS ID number as indicated on the top of your I-20.

Item 27:

  • If you are applying for Pre-Completion OPT enter the codes (c) (3) (A)
  • For Post-Completion OPT enter the codes (c) (3) (B)  - The c is a lower case "c" and B is an upper case "B"
  • For STEM OPT enter the codes (c) (3) (C) - The first c is a lower case "c" and second C is an upper case "C"
This visual illustrates how to enter the information for Pre-Completion OPT.

This visual illustrates how to enter the information for Pre-Completion OPT.

This visual illustrates how to enter the information for Post-Completion OPT.

This visual illustrates how to enter the information for STEM OPT.

This visual illustrates how to enter the information for STEM OPT.

Item 28:

Write "N/A" in the blank fields if you are not applying for STEM OPT. If you are applying for the 24 month STEM OPT Extension write the following:

  • Degree: Write your academic level and the CIP code found on your I-20. You can find the CIP code for your previous degree on page 1 of the current format I-20 or at the top of page 3 of the old format I-20.
  • Employer name: Write your employer's name as listed in the e-verify system (this should also match your I-983)
  • Employer's E-verify number: Write your employer's e-verify number. This is usually 4-7 digits. E-verify number is not the same as EIN. Check with your employer if you do not know your employer's e-verify number

Item 29:

Write "none."

Items 30a - 30c:

Leave checkboxes blank as they do not apply to OPT applications. 

Item 30d:

Write "none."

Items 30e - 30g:

Write "N/A" in the blank spaces.

Item 31a:

Write "none."

Item 31b:

Leave blank.

Part 3. Applicant's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature

Applicant's Statement

Select the box appropriate to your situation. If you select 1a, write “N/A” in the text boxes for items 1b and 2.

Applicant's Contact Information

Item 3:

Enter your phone number.

Item 4:

Enter your mobile phone number. It's okay if items 3 and 4 are the same.

Item 5:

Enter your email address.

Item 6:

Leave the checkbox blank.

Applicant’s Signature

NOTE: The signature must be done by hand, and not electronically/digitally and should be dated within 30 days of sending the application.

Be sure to sign the form in black ink inside the box. Make sure only your signature is in the box and fits entirely within it, as the government will scan your signature for your approval document.


Parts 4 and 5

  • Part 4. Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature
  • Part 5. Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, If Other Than the Applicant.

Leave all text boxes blank if you have completed the I-765 yourself. If someone else has completed your I-765 for you, you should indicate their contact information. Regardless of answers, these pages must be included in your application.

Part 6. Additional Information

For Items 1a - 1c, you must enter your name. Then, you complete the remaining questions in this section only if:

  • You have previously been approved for CPT and/or OPT
  • You have had a different SEVIS ID number while in F-1 status (for example, you attended school but left for a leave of absence, then returned to school with a new I-20).

Previous CPT and/or OPT

If you have previously been approved for CPT and/or OPT:

Items 3a-c, 4a-c, 5a-c, etc.:

Write Page 3, Part 2, Item 27.

Items 3d and 4d:

List out any of the previous CPT or OPT authorizations you have had. Use separate fields for each type of authorization (for example, list all previous CPT or previous OPT in separate boxes).

  • CPT: List all previous CPT approvals. We suggest this format: CPT Authorizations (as the title to this section); whether the authorization was part-time (20 hours or fewer per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week); your SEVIS ID number, employer name; employment start date - employment end date; degree level. You can find all of your previous CPT details on the I-20 that was approved for each period of CPT. For example: CPT Authorization, Full-time, N0123456789, Top Job Inc., 06/01/2018 - 09/03/2018, Bachelor's.

  • OPT: List all previous OPT approvals. We suggest this format: OPT Authorizations (as the title to this section); whether the authorization was part-time (20 hours or fewer per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week); your OPT approved start date - OPT approved end date; degree level. For example: OPT Authorization, Part-time, N0123456789, 09/04/2018 - 12/20/2018, Bachelor's.

Previous SEVIS ID

If you had a previous SEVIS ID number:

Items 3a-c, 4a-c, 5a-c, etc.:

Write Page 3, Part 2, Item 26.

Items 5d:

List out any of the previous SEVIS ID numbers you have had.  Use separate fields for each type of authorization (for example, list any previous SEVIS ID number in 5d).

  • List all other SEVIS ID numbers you have used in the past. We suggest this format: Previous SEVIS ID numbers (as the title for this section); your previous SEVIS ID number; program start and end dates for that previous SEVIS ID number; degree level and the name of the university attended. For example: Previous SEVIS ID number; N0012345678, 09/05/2015 - 05/15/2017, Bachelor's, New York University.

Step 3: Assemble and Review Your OPT Application

Once you have completed the I-765 form and assembled your OPT application, then view our OPT application review session (for students mailing their OPT application) linked off of our recorded workshops web page to review what a complete OPT application sent by mail needs to include. Incomplete or incorrect applications can cause serious delays so go over the item checklist in Step 1 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 and G-1145. Everything else should be a copy. Keep a photocopy of your complete OPT application for your records. If you have questions about your application, schedule an online advising appointment.

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 US in the future could be denied. 

Step 4: Send Your OPT Application by UPS/FedEx to the US Government

Students applying for pre- or post-completion OPT: USCIS must receive it within 30 days of the date your I-20 was issued.

Students applying for STEM OPT: USCIS must receive it within 60 days of the date your I-20 was issued AND before your current OPT expires.

Send your application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services by FedEx or UPS.

You can use eShipGlobal to get your shipping label at a discounted rate. Learn how to use eShipGlobal. Register with eShipGlobal to get started.

Mail your application to the Direct Filing Address for Form I-765 listed for foreign students.

Step 5: Complete the Remaining Steps in the OPT Application Process