How to apply for OPT: Everything You Should Know (Guide for 2023)

How to apply for OPT: Everything you should know (Guide for 2023)

How to apply for OPT

1.What is OPT?

1.What is OPT?

To begin our step-by-step instructions, it is critical to first comprehend the features of this type of visa. Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a sort of work authorization granted to F-1 students who are pursuing a bachelor’s or graduate degree in the United States and have been enrolled in their degree program for at least one academic year in valid F-1 status, allowing them to gain real-world job experience in their field of study.

The OPT visa has been authorized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and students who want to apply for OPT can accomplish this by following the 6 procedures outlined below.

2.How to apply for OPT?

2.How to apply for OPT?

Step 1: Submit an OPT request to your Designated School Official (DSO)

Students may seek an OPT I-20 from their university’s international student office as early as 90 days before the completion of their program and as late as 60 days after the end of their program.

Step 2: OPT eligibility confirmed and new OPT I-20 Form issued by DSO

Following the application above, DSO will proof and process a new OPT I-20 for students in about 7 business days, and students will be notified via email to download and print their electronically signed OPT I-20. Students must sign the printed I-20 in ink, since US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not allow students to sign the I-20 online.

* Note: Incomplete or erroneous requests will be returned to students for correction and will need to be resubmitted to DSO for processing, at which point the processing time will restart.

Step 3: Complete the required paperwork: Employment Authorization (Form I-765)

Students must submit the Form I-765 and supporting application materials to USCIS online via my USCIS account within 30 days of obtaining the OPT I-20 from the DSO.

Click Here for the Guide to Filling Online Form I-765 for Post-Completion OPT.

Step 4: Receive Form I-797 with the receipt number assigned to the case

After the completion of Form I-765, the status of your OPT request in SEVIS switches to Pending and you receive a receipt number for Form I-797. If USCIS requires further information, the student will get a Request For Evidence outlining what material is required and the deadline for it.

The application is subsequently decided by USCIS. If granted, USCIS will issue an EAD and mail it to you in 1-2 months, while the OPT request status in SEVIS changes to Approved. If Form I-765 is rejected, the status changes to Denied accordingly.

Step 5: Receives your EAD card and begin to work after the authorized date

Students must activate and maintain a SEVP Portal account as part of their OPT reporting responsibilities. As a result, when students receive their EAD cards, SEVP will send them an email with an account activation link. Regardless of employment status, students must create their SEVP Portal account within 14 days of receiving this link.

Furthermore, immigration requirements require F-1 students on OPT to record their employment, employment relationship to major, US address, and phone number on or after their permitted OPT start date. All updates must be reported within 10 days of the event.

Step 6: DSO needs to update SEVIS with the employment information

When a student is hired, the student needs to update the employer information to DSO. Failure to comply with reporting obligations will result in the student’s SEVIS record being terminated by SEVP or USCIS.

*Note: While on OPT, the student must notify DSO within 10 days of any changes in his or her name, residence, or job information.

If you still have questions regarding OPT application and policies, please refer to the FAQ section below for more information.

3.OPT Visa FAQs

3.OPT Visa FAQs

As an F1 student, you may choose two types of OPT: Pre-completion OPT and Post- completion(the most common).

Pre-completion OPT: You may apply after completing one academic year of full-time coursework at a college before applying for pre-completion OPT. And you can apply up to 90 days before the end of the academic year,

Post-completion OPT: You may apply after completing your degree. You can apply up to 90 days before you complete your degree.

No, OPT does not require employer sponsorship. Only the H1B visa and a Greencard may require sponsorship.

You have up to 12 months for OPT, if you are a STEM degree F1 student, then you also have another 24 months for STEM OPT extension.


During the OPT application period, you should make sure that your passport does not expire. If it is going to expire, it is recommended to contact your country’s embassy for passport renewal ASAP. If you are unable to complete your passport renewal on time because of the Covid-19 pandemic, you should also submit documents proving your attempt to renew your passport when you make your OPT application.

F1 Visa:

The F-1 visa does not need to be valid to apply for OPT. You will need to include a copy of the expired F-1 visa in your OPT application.

As soon as you receive your OPT application case status number (I-797C) from USCIS. You can track your opt status here with your Receipt Number. 

Although the U.S. government does not mandate that students purchase insurance while on OPT, you should purchase OPT health insurance for your OPT period as health protection. Student Medicover has multiple plans for OPT to keep you covered.

Yes, there are no limitations on how many hours you may work once you are on post-completion OPT; you can work part-time (at least 20 hours per week) full-time or overtime, and may work for multiple employers.

Note: Your employment is required to be directly related to your field of study.

During post-completion OPT, unemployment can last up to 90 days.

Yes. The change of employer during your F-1 OPT is perfectly legal. Be sure to notify your school as soon as possible about any job changes you make.

Yes, unpaid internships or volunteer work qualify for OPT employment.



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments