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OPT Application Process
Transcript of OPT Application Process
By the Office of International Students & Scholars
Applying for Post-Completion OPT
How do I apply?
Gather your application and ensure that your graduate requirements have been met by visiting your advisor & the Registrar's Office and having them sign the OPT Recommendation Form.
Attend the OPT workshop to be held in February.
Schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor when you have finalized your application to go over it and ensure that it is correct. You will get your new I-20 with the OPT recommendation at this meeting.
When can I apply for OPT?
You can apply as early as 90 days before your program completion date and as late as 60 days after your program completion date.
The program completion date is the expiration date listed on your I-20.
For most students, this is May 30th. This means that the earliest that you can apply is March 1 and the latest you can apply is July 29.
Apply EARLY! It can take up to 90 days to process an application and get approval. Applying early is key to getting approval before graduation.
What do I need to apply?
I-765 Application Form
2 Passport Photos with your name and SEVIS ID number written on the back
$410 Check or Money Order made out to US Department of Homeland Security
Payment can also be made by credit card through G-1450 Form
Copy of new I-20 with OPT recommendation
Copies of all previously issued I-20s (even from other schools)
Copy of visa & I-94 (can be found at this site: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94)
Copy of biographical page of passport
Photocopy of any previously issued Employment Authorization Documents
Here is a link to the I-765 form:
And some specific tips to fill out the form:
Choosing a start date:
Please think very carefully about the start date that you would like for your OPT.
You cannot start working until you have your EAD card and the start date has arrived.
Your start date must be after the program completion date (5/30) but before the 60 day grace period ends after that date (7/29).
An early start date is good for those who already have a job lined up. A later start date is good for those who anticipate that it may take a little while to find a job.
You have exactly a year of OPT from your start date.
You must know what start date you would like when you come to your OPT application appointment with OISS.
Once you have your application together, you must mail it to USCIS within 30 days of the issue date on the new I-20. If you wait longer than 30 days, the application will automatically be denied and you will need to reapply and pay the fee again.
What happens after I mail the application?
You will get several notices from USCIS including:
A receipt notice that USCIS has received your application. There will be a number on this notice called the EAC number. This is the number you will use to check the status of your application either by phone or using this link: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard/CaseStatus.do
Approval notice. Please note that this approval notice is not your proof of work authorization.
EAD (Employment Authorization Document). This is a card with your picture, which serves as your official authorization to work in the US.
Request for Evidence (RFE): This means that there is something missing, something incorrect on your application, or USCIS needs more information. If you receive an RFE, please contact OISS immediately for guidance.
There are several things you must do to stay in good immigration status while on OPT, such as:
Find and keep a job in your field of study during the 12 month OPT period. You must work at least 20 hours per week and there are several types of work that qualify (such as volunteer work!). Contact OISS for more details. It is your job to keep accurate records of your employment in case USCIS should check on you during your OPT period.
Once you get a job, you must contact OISS by email with your job offer letter including contact information for your supervisor. You must also include a line in the email about how the job relates to your field of study.
Don't accrue more than 90 days aggregate of unemployment while on OPT. After the start date, SEVIS will automatically terminate records that do not have a job listed after 90 consecutive days.
Report any changes to OISS including: address change, employment offer/change with job offer letter, name changes, or if you are departing the US early.
Can I travel internationally on OPT?
OISS does not recommend leaving the US until you receive your EAD card and have a job offer. If you leave and need to renew your visa, this will be incredibly difficult to do.
After you have OPT approval and a job offer, you can travel internationally if you'd like. To do so, you must have your I-20 signed for the travel signature every 6 months. You will also need a valid visa/passport and you should bring your job offer or employment letter and your EAD card with you.
If your visa has expired, please note that it can be incredibly difficult to renew your visa while on OPT. This is because your main purpose for being in the US has changed from being a student to working and as such, it is difficult to prove that you do not intend to immigrate to the US.
DO NOT LEAVE THE COUNTRY WHILE ON OPT AND REENTER ON A TOURIST VISA. You will forgo your OPT if you do so and this is not a problem that OISS can help you to fix.
What is OPT exactly?
Optional Practical Training or OPT is a benefit of your F-1 status that allows you to work in your field of study for 12 months post-graduation. Many students decide to stay in the US to get work experience after graduation and OPT allows you to do that legally. The only requirements in order to receive your OPT benefit is to be in good status, finished with your academic program, and to submit your application correctly.
You should apply for OPT if you plan to work at any point after May 30th if you are graduating.
Even if you are planning to work on campus.
What about graduate school and OPT?
If you plan to go to graduate school full time after graduation, you should not apply for OPT. Please note that you only get one 12 month OPT period per level of study so you forgo your bachelor's level OPT if you move to graduate school without using it. You cannot save this OPT time and combine with your graduate level OPT. If you want to work in the summer between Trinity and graduate school, you can and should use OPT.
You can study part time while on OPT but your main focus must be your work experience.
Can be done in Office of Study Away. Photos taken between 10 am & 12 pm and between 2 pm and 4 pm. Cash only accepted. No appointment necessary.
Alternatively, you can get passport photos taken at the CVS on Washington St near campus for a low fee.
Stay in touch after graduation!
Go to the link below to find out how you can stay involved with Trinity as alums either in the US or abroad!
This is where your EAD card will be sent
Put (C)(3)(B) here
Cool news! You can now apply for a Social Security Number with this form if you don't have one yet.