Post-completion OPT is a type of work authorization for F-1 students who are completing a bachelor’s or graduate degree in the US. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for employment experience in a student’s field of study. OPT is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Students who are interested in applying for OPT are required to read the OPT Instructions below.
Effective September 29, 2020, USCIS will continue to accept OPT applications filed with the 8/25/20 edition of the Form I-765 and $410 fee until further notice – see full announcement here
Processed post-completion OPT I-20s will be mailed to students via eShipGlobal
Announcement regarding USCIS EAD processing delays
Questions? Refer to Slide 32 of the OPT Instructions for OIS contact information and advising options
The OPT Instructions cover eligibility requirements, submission deadlines, employment and reporting requirements, and other frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Processed OPT I-20s will be mailed to students via eShipGlobal. Students will be required to upload their eShip order confirmation in the OPT I-20 Request System. When creating the order in eShip, students should select “All Other Documents” for Step 2.
Students may request an OPT I-20 from OIS as early as 90 days prior to their program end date and up to approximately 45 days after their program end date. Refer to OPT Instructions for submission dates and deadlines.
Students currently on OPT cannot use the OPT I-20 Request System for I-20 Reprint or travel signature requests. This system is used only for initial OPT/STEM OPT Extension/Cap-Gap Extension I-20 requests.
After receiving the OPT I-20 from OIS, the student must assemble OPT application packet and mail it to USCIS for processing. Refer to the OPT Application Checklist for a list of required documents and mailing instructions.
For guidance on completing the Form I-765 indicated on the checklist, please refer to the Sample OPT I-765.
Important update: On September 29, 2020, a US federal court issued an injunction against the USCIS fee increase that was expected to go into effect on October 2, 2020. Due to this ruling, USCIS will continue to accept OPT applications filed with the 8/25/20 edition of the Form I-765 and $410 fee until further notice.
Please refer to USC’s Sample OPT I-765 when completing the OPT application. Be sure to download the most recent versions of the I-765 and instructions from USCIS. Failure to use the most recent version could result in OPT denial.
Immigration regulations require F-1 students on post-completion OPT to report their employment, employment relation to major, US address, and telephone information on or after their approved OPT start date. All updates must be reported within 10 days.
Failure to comply with reporting requirements will result in termination of the student’s SEVIS record by SEVP and/or USCIS.
How to report OPT employment:
Step 1: Download and complete the OIS OPT Employment Relation to Major Form
- Download the form to your computer; do not complete and save from an internet browser, as the form will not save properly
- Submit one form for each employer (i.e. if you have multiple employers or you change employers)
Step 2: Email completed form to OPT@usc.edu
- In email subject line, write: OPT Employment Relation: Last Name, First Name, SEVIS ID #
- Attach completed OPT Employment Relation to Major Form as a PDF file
- Submission of the OPT Employment Relation to Major Form to OPT@usc.edu will serve as the confirmation that you have complied with the reporting requirements; OIS will contact you only if your form is incomplete
Step 3: Login to the SEVP Portal and update employment information
- Click to access the SEVP Portal
- If your OPT is approved, you will receive the SEVP Portal account activation email from SEVIS on or after your OPT EAD start date – SEVIS does not allow portal access prior to the EAD start date
- Add or update employment, US address, and telephone information
- Copy and paste the text from “Section B – Employment Relation” from the OIS OPT Employment Relation to Major From to to the corresponding box in the SEVP Portal – the template has been provided for your convenience
Before contacting OIS, please review the Study in the States: SEVP Portal Help website for answers to common questions or issues, including how to unlock your SEVP Portal account or reset your password.
If you need the initial SEVP Portal account creation email to be resent, need to change your SEVP Portal email address, or have any other SEVP Portal issue not addressed on the Study in the States website, email OIS@usc.edu:
- In the email subject line, write: SEVP Portal Issue: Last Name, First Name – SEVIS ID #
- Include your preferred SEVP Portal account email address and attach a PDF copy of your EAD, along with any relevant screenshots or error messages
- SEVP Policy Guidance announcement
- SEVP Policy Guidance: Practical Training – Determining a Direct Relationship Between Employment and a Student’s Major Area of Study
Due to delays with EAD processing, USCIS has issued temporary guidance allowing students to use the Form I-797 OPT EAD Approval Notice, in the absence of an OPT EAD, as proof of work authorization. This guidance only applies to students issued a Form I-797 OPT EAD Approval Notice between December 1, 2019 and August 20, 2020. See the official USCIS announcement here.