Post Completion OPT
- What is Post Completion OPT?
- Post-Completion OPT Eligibility
- How do I apply for Post-Completion OPT?
- While Form I-765 is Pending - What Should I Do?
- What Should I Do After Form I-765 is Approved?
- How Do I Maintain F-1 Status While on OPT?
- Frequently Asked Questions (Post-Completion OPT)
Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment authorization issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The work students pursue while on Post-Completion OPT must be directly related to his/her/their major field of study. Post-Completion OPT may be used either:
1) after the completion of a degree program or
2) after completion of all course requirements other than a thesis, project or comprehensive final exam.
Post-Completion OPT is generally issued for a duration of 12 months, but may be for less time if the student has previously applied and been granted Pre-Completion OPT.
1) Must have been a full-time student for at least one consecutive academic year.
2) Valid F-1 status at the time of application.
3) Good academic standing: your cumulative GPA on your transcript must be at an acceptable level (minimum 3.0 for grads and 2.0 for undergrads).
4) Academic Advisor recommendation (Section B on the Post-OPT I-20 Request Form) confirming
you will be completing your degree and are in good academic standing.
1) View the Post-OPT Tutorial.
2) Submit a completed OPT I-20 Request Form to ISSS.
3) Pay the one-time $150.00 administrative Post-Completion OPT fee by going to this link. Make sure you select the correct payment option for the "OPT fee" (it's the first item on the menu.) Attach proof of payment receipt along with your Post-Completion OPT application.
3) Once submitted to ISSS, processing times is 5-7 business days. ISSS will email you when the new I-20 has been issued. USCIS is accepting digitally signed I-20's, so we will email you the I-20 with OPT recommendation. You will need this I-20 with OPT recommendation, to file your application with USCIS.
4) Once you have your I-20 and have prepared your OPT packet, please be aware that USCIS must receive your completed OPT application within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 issuance date. Refer to the checklist of items to submit to USCIS, from the OPT I-20 Request Form instructions. Make sure to visit USCIS's website for the most up-to-date forms (I-765, G-1145) and instructions. For help with Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, view ISSS' I-765 Completion Guide.
5) Optional: Attend an OPT Packet Prep Workshop. Check the ISSS workshop calendar for specific dates.
6) Mail or use the new online submission tool on the USCIS website to submit OPT application packet to USCIS. Refer to USCIS I-765 filing locations for the mailing address and check out these OPT Filing Tips & Reminders before mailing your application. Approximately 2-4 weeks after mailing, you should receive a paper receipt notice with a USCIS case number.
7) Wait 2-4 months to receive work authorization from USCIS. You should receive an approval notice (I-797 Notice of Action) and EAD. Wait for the EAD to arrive before beginning any employment (paid or unpaid).
8) Report your employment through the SEVP Portal. For instructions on how to access and use the SEVP Portal, please click on this link: SEVP Portal Guidelines.
Check Processing Time Online
Click here to check I-765 application processing times at Potomac Service Center.
Under <Forms> select ’I-765’, for <Service Center> select ‘Potomac Service Center’, click the ‘Get Processing Time’ button.
Check your Case Status Online
Enter the Receipt Number from your USCIS receipt notice (Form I-797C). You also have an option to sign up for an account to get automatic case updates, including a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) tracking number. This is different from the G-1145 E-Notification of Application Acceptance.
To inquire about your case outside of normal processing times, Submit a Case Inquiry.
Update Your Address
Have you moved after applying for OPT? Update your mailing address with USCIS here: Online Change of Address. Please note that the longer you wait to update your address once you have a pending Post-Completion OPT application, the less likely it is that USCIS will send your I-797 receipt notice and EAD to the correct mailing address. We advise you to use this feature with extreme caution and to speak with us before doing so.
Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery
Sign up for this service to receive delivery status notifications.
Label Your Mailbox
To ensure proper and timely delivery of any USCIS notifications, including the application approval and EAD card, we strongly recommend you add a label to your mailbox with your full name (Last and First Name used on Form I-765).
Practice the Art of Being Patient
USCIS I-765 processing times range from 3 to 5 months. While you wait for USCIS to process your application, focus on securing your dream job, practice your hobbies, and try your best not to worry about why your application hasn’t been approved yet.
Be patient and enjoy your free time! Once your OPT is approved you will be required to work full-time in order to maintain F-1 status and be able to legally stay in the U.S.
OPT Reporting Requirements
Once you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and it becomes active (EAD start date), you are required to comply with federal OPT reporting requirements to maintain F-1 status. Click here to learn more about OPT Reporting Responsibilities.
EAD Typographic Error(s)
After receiving your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), check the card for any errors, especially the work authorization dates.
If you receive a receipt notice, document, or card from USCIS that contains a typographic error, submit a USCIS Service request.
Depending on the nature of the error (name, date of birth), you may need to return the card to USCIS to obtain a corrected replacement card. Please email us at email@example.com to inform us of the error, so we can advise you on how to get the card corrected.
While on OPT, you must follow certain rules to maintain your F-1 status:
- You may only work from the start date to the end date listed on the EAD (no more than 12 months of work authorization).
- All employment (paid and unpaid) must be related to your major field of study.
- Report all employment and address changes to ISSS within 10 days of the change. You will use the SEVP Portal. The following information must be reported within 10 days:
- Your residential address
- Phone number, email address
- Employer’s name, address
- Job title
- Start and/or end dates of employment
- Any periods of unemployment
- The date you are exiting the U.S. (if you leave before the end date of your OPT). This information must also be reported directly to the ISSS and not just through the SEVP Portal.
Continue to File Your Taxes
For information on how to file your taxes as a Post-OPT recipient, please review our resources on Taxes.
Do I need to have a job/job offer to apply for Post-Completion OPT?
No, a job offer/job is not required when applying.
When does my 60-day grace period begin?What am I allowed to do during my grace period?
Every F-1 student should be entitled to a 60-day "grace period" beginning on the day after the program (graduation) end date indicated on your I-20. During your 60-day grace period, you can choose to (a) apply for OPT or start working via OPT; (b) transfer your SEVIS record to another institution or degree program at SJSU; or (c) make preparations to depart the U.S. and return to your home country. You are not allowed to take courses during your grace period.
What can I do if I have been waiting for more than 90 days for my EAD card?
An inquiry ticket can (possibly) be submitted through the USCIS's website. You may also schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor for more information. Please periodically check the USCIS Case Processing page to learn about the current processing times for I-765 applications.
What if I have Post-Completion authorization, but don’t ever find a job?
You will be out of status once you have accumulated 90 unemployment days. We recommend that you make arrangements to return home and consult with our office as soon as possible.
How do I report my employment once I find a job?
Can ISSS tell me whether a potential job offer would be related to my studies?
No. Only you and/or your academic department could determine whether a potential position would relate to your studies or not. We are not experts in your field, therefore it would not be prudent for us nor are we qualified to determine the relevancy.
What should I do once I receive my EAD in the mail?
Please keep both hard and soft copies for your records and review for accuracy (start/end dates, name, birth date, etc.) You may also submit a copy of your EAD to ISSS via our general inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Am I still allowed to remain in the country even though my 60-day grace period has expired, and my OPT application is pending?
Yes. Provided that your OPT application was officially received by USCIS BEFORE your grace period expired, then you will be permitted to remain in the U.S. until USCIS renders a decision on your OPT application.
Will my unemployment days start accumulating if I don’t receive my EAD by my requested OPT start date?
Not necessarily. If USCIS does not process your EAD by your requested start date, then they will usually give you a future start date once they have finished processing your EAD.
Will my unemployment days start accumulating once my 60-day grace period expires if I have not received my EAD by then?
No. Although you may experience a reduction in your overall 12-month OPT allotment if you do not receive your EAD before your 60-day grace period expires, your unemployment days should not begin until you receive your EAD. Specifically, your unemployment days will begin accumulating AFTER the start date on your EAD.
Can I change employers during Post-Completion OPT?
Yes, you may change employers as many times as you wish while on Post-Completion OPT, provided that you report the change into the SEVP Portal within 10 days, and the job is related to your major field of study at SJSU.
What type of status do I have during Post-Completion OPT?
You will remain in F-1 status so long as you report and start your employment within 90 days of the start date on your EAD and maintain employment of at least 20 hours per week. You will be granted an additional 60-day grace period once you complete 12 months of OPT, during which you can make arrangements to return home or choose to go into another degree program. If you are a STEM major, you may also choose to apply for the STEM-OPT Extension before your current EAD expires.
Am I allowed to travel abroad before I receive my EAD and after I graduate?
ISSS strongly discourages students from traveling out of the country AFTER they have graduated and BEFORE they receive work authorization (EAD). Before traveling, students should ensure that they have a valid EAD and job verification (job offer letter) in addition to a valid passport, valid F-1 visa, signed I-20, etc.
Can I take classes during my OPT authorization?
Students on OPT may only take non-degree seeking courses through community education programs such as Open University for enrichment purposes. Students should be cautious of enrolling in several non-degree seeking courses with the intention of fulfilling prerequisites for a future degree program.
Can I work during the 60-day grace period attached to the 12-month OPT authorization?
Students are not allowed to work after the expiration date of their EAD. Students may be permitted to continue working after the expiration date of their EAD, only if they applied for STEM-Extension OPT, and their application was received by USCIS BEFORE the post-completion OPT EAD expired.
Am I required to file taxes while on OPT?
Yes. Please review the following resources that ISSS & Sprintax have developed for Post-OPT and STEM-Extension recipients to help file their taxes!