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I-765 Explained

Below are detailed instructions on how to fill out the I-765 if you are applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT). The only items highlighted on this form 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.

I am applying for:

Check the box “Permission to accept employment.” If you lost your EAD and are applying for a new card, select "replacement." If you are applying for STEM OPT, select "renewal of my permission to accept employment."

Applying for

Item 1:

Enter your family name first. Enter your first name second. Include your middle name if you have one.

Enter family name in capital letters

Item 2:

Write "N/A" if you haven't used another name.

Item 3:

Enter your street address. This must be a US address and it should be valid three months into the future. 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 a “care of” name. This is indicated by writing “c/o” and then the name of your friend/family member before the street address.

Enter street address

Item 9a:

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

Item 9b:

Only answer this question if you have a Social Security Number, and checked "Yes" for item 9a.

Items 10 - 11:

Check "Yes" for both 10 and 11 if:

  • you do not have a Social Security Number, and checked "No" for item 9a,
  • you have a Social Security Number, and checked "Yes" for item 9a but you need a replacement card.

Check "No" for both 10 and 11 if you have a Social Security card already.

if "No" to number 10, skip to question number 14.

Items 12 - 13b:

Only answer these questions if you do not have a Social Security card and checked "Yes" for items 10 and 11. 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 SSA.

Item 14:

Enter your I-94 number

Enter I-94 number


Item 15:

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 selected “yes”, enter the USCIS office that handled your previous employment authorization application. For most of you this will be the Vermont Service Center (receipt number would start with EAC). Other service center codes are:

  • YSC for the Potomac Service Center
  • SRC for the Texas Service Center
  • WAC for the California Service Center
  • LIN for the Nebraska Service Center

Enter the date(s) you were approved/denied for employment authorization.


Find the service center information on your previous EAD cards. The service center is indicated from the three digit alpha code at the beginning of the number. Date/s should be the start date of the previous employment authorization period, if multiple previous work authorization put most recent authorization and attach documentation showing all other work authorization periods from USCIS, if multiple previous employment periods, for results enter in most recent results and also enter see attached documentation. 

If you have previously aplite for OPT enter dates

Item 16:

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

Enter date of last entry to US

Item 17:

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”.

Enter 3 digit code stamped on I-94

Item 18:

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

item 14

Item 19:

Your current status should be F-1 Student.

Item 15

Item 20:

  • 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)
Enter OPT codes

Item 21:

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 22-23:

Write "N/A" in blank fields.

Item 23b:

Leave checkbox blank as it does not apply to OPT applications. 

Your Signature:

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.

Signature of person preparing form, leave this blank unless someone else has completed your I-765 for you. You should not sign this section if you have completed it yourself.