Optical Practical Training (OPT)

Optical Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) is available to students in F-1 status who are enrolled on a full-time basis and have been so for at least one full academic year. An eligible F-1 student may request OPT in order to be employed in a position which is directly related to the major area of study. A total of twelve (12) months of OPT is available for qualified students to use after each degree level completion as an F-1 student.

Pre-Completion OPT (c)(3)(A)
“Pre-completion” means applying to do OPT while you are enrolled in a full-time degree program. This work will be part-time, and a maximum of 20 hours per week. You may work full time during the summer or other official school breaks. You must be enrolled as a full-time student (12 credit hours) at all times and you must have completed one full academic year (two semesters, summer not included). If you have not completed a full academic year, you may only apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before the end of the full academic year.

Post-Completion OPT (c)(3)(B)
“Post-completion” means applying to do OPT after the completion of your degree program. It is intended to be full time at the end of your academic program, after completion of the course of study, or, for a student in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree.

The USCIS office in Phoenix, Arizona must grant an employment authorization document (EAD) before a student may commence employment. Processing times for EAD cards can be checked at the USCIS website

Am I Eligible for OPT?

F-1 students who have been enrolled full time for at least two consecutive semesters are eligible for OPT authorization.  

When Should I Apply for OPT?

OPT applications can be submitted up to 90 days before your expected completion date and must be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after the completion of academic program requirements. 

The application needs to be received by USCIS no later than 30 days after the OPT I-20 is printed by International Student Affairs. 

How to Apply for OPT

In order to apply for optional practical training, you must be able to respond, "Yes," to the following questions:

  1. Is your I-20 current? Does it reflect your current field of study and educational level?
  2. Do you have a valid, unexpired passport?
  3. Have you had less than 12 months of full-time curricular practical training (CPT)?
  4. Have you been a full-time student for one full academic year?
  5. Have you been full-time (12+ credit hours) as an F-1 student every semester you attended Vincennes?

If you answered “yes” to all questions above, you are ready to begin the OPT Application process. 

Prepare the following documents:

  • Academic Advisor Recommendation Form: This form must be completed and signed by your academic department indicating that you have been a full-time student every semester at VU and the date that you will complete your academic program.
  • Application Form I-765: Complete this form on your computer before printing (codes listed below for application line 16). Be sure to use the international office address for your mailing address, in case you have already left school. See: http://www.uscis.gov/i-765
              a. (c)(3)(A) for pre-completion OPT       
              b. (c)(3)(B) for standard post-completion OPT
  • Previous Form I-20(s): Copies of all prior I-20s, including your original entry I-20 with the Homeland Security stamp in the upper right hand corner.
  • New Form I-20: A new I-20 will be created for OPT. Do not mail the original to USCIS, only mail a copy along with your other application documents.
  • $380.00 Application Fee: You may use a personal check or purchase a money order (available at the post office, cash only) made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (print this on your check exactly as it is written here).
  • Two Passport Photos: You must have this done at Walgreens or similar store that can produce an official passport photo meeting U.S. government photograph requirements. Do not attempt to take this picture yourself.
  • Passport: Copy of the ID page showing all details including expiration date and passport number.
  • I-94 Card: Copy of both sides of the I-94.
  • EAD(s): Copies of all previous EAD/employment authorization cards if applicable

Schedule a meeting with your Intenational Student Advisor 

Once you have completed your application package, schedule a meeting with your International Student Advisor for final document approval. 

Mail your application package

After your appointment you will mail your application for OPT either certified or express mail to the address listed below. The application must reach Processing Center within 30 days of the time that the I-20 is created on the day of your appointment.

Regular Air Mail:

PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ

Private Courier or Express Mail (i.e. UPS, DHL, FedEx):

Attn: AOS 
1820 E. SkyHarbor Circle S. 
Suite 100
Phoenix AZ