Post-completion OPT is a type of work authorization for F-1 students who are completing a bachelor’s or graduate degree in the U.S. and have studied in their degree program for at least one academic year (i.e., a spring and fall semester) in valid F-1 status. 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). USC students who are interested in applying for OPT are required to read the OPT Instructions below.
- OPT Instructions
- Request OPT I-20 in MyOIS
- Guide to Filing Form I-765 with USCIS
- OPT Employment Reporting Requirements
- SEVP Portal Issues
- USCIS Announcement(s)
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- OIS Contact Information
The OPT Instructions cover eligibility requirements, submission deadlines, employment and reporting requirements, and other frequently asked questions (FAQs).
For answers to other frequently asked questions not addressed in the OPT Instructions, refer to the OPT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
When to submit:
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 the OPT Instructions for submission dates and deadlines.
* Incomplete or incorrect requests will be returned to students for review and correction, and will require resubmission to OIS for processing. The seven business day processing time will restart upon resubmission.
How completed I-20s will be sent to students:
Effective immediately, OPT I-20s will no longer be sent via express mail. Processed OPT I-20s for spring 2021 graduates will be signed and distributed electronically by OIS Designated School Officials (DSOs). Students will be notified by email to download and print their signed OPT I-20 from MyOIS. After printing, students must sign the printed I-20 in ink; USCIS does not allow students to sign the I-20 electronically.
SEVP, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Department of State (DoS) have confirmed they accept I-20s electronically signed by DSOs. Please note only DSOs may electronically sign I-20s; students may not electronically sign any documents submitted to USCIS.
Reprints and travel signatures:
Students already in possession of an OPT I-20 may not use the MyOIS for I-20 reprint or travel signature requests, since MyOIS is only for initial OPT/STEM OPT Extension/Cap-Gap Extension I-20 requests. To obtain an OPT I-20 reprint or travel signature, submit an I-20 Request Form.
After receiving the OPT I-20 from OIS, students must submit the Form I-765 and supporting application documents to USCIS online via a myUSCIS account. Refer to the I-765 guide for required documents and submission instructions.
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.
As part of OPT reporting requirements, students must activate and maintain an SEVP Portal account. On or after the student’s OPT EAD start date, SEVP will email the student an account activation link (see SEVP Portal activation video). By default, this link will be sent to the student’s USC email address. Students must create their SEVP Portal account within 14 days of receiving this link, regardless of employment status. For additional guidance, see Study in the States: SEVP Portal Help, SEVP Portal Videos, and SEVP Portal Issues.
Failure to comply with reporting requirements will result in termination of the student’s SEVIS record by SEVP and/or USCIS.
|Complete and submit the OIS OPT Employment Relation to Major Form.|
|Log into the SEVP Portal and add or update employment, U.S. address, and telephone information.
Students will receive the SEVP Portal account activation email from SEVIS on or after their OPT EAD start date – SEVIS does not allow portal access prior to the EAD start date.
|Report updates within 10 days of any change to:|
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.
For initial SEVP Portal account creation email issues, requests to change the SEVP Portal account email address or any other SEVP Portal issue not addressed on the Study in the States website, submit an SEVP Portal Account Issue Report to OIS. Allow up to four (4) business days for processing. Students will receive an email from OIS@usc.edu when their request is complete or if additional information is needed.
- SEVP Policy Guidance announcement
- SEVP Policy Guidance: Practical Training – Determining a Direct Relationship Between Employment and a Student’s Major Area of Study
Excerpt of USCIS announcement published on February 26, 2021 and updated with an extension of benefits on July 29, 2021. Full announcement available on the USCIS website.
Do you have any questions after reviewing the above information? OIS can provide assistance via email or an advising session.