Updated 07/02/2024

As you prepare to apply for post-completion OPT with USCIS, OIS would like to clarify some frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the OPT application process and filing Form I-765 with USCIS.

For questions related to employment requirements while on OPT and other important FAQs, refer to the OPT Instructions.

1) My city of birth is incorrect on my OPT I-20 and/or past I-20s. What should I do?
2) I applied for an RCL this semester but the “Authorized Reduced Course Load” section on my I-20 is blank. Should I be concerned?
3) The current session start and end dates on my I-20 are incorrect. Does this need to be corrected?
4) Do I need to include copies of my initial I-20 from USC or any other I-20s that do not show CPT or OPT work authorization in my USCIS application?
5) How do I submit the Form I-765 and supporting OPT documents to USCIS?
6) I applied for my SSN with an on-campus job or CPT but I am waiting to receive an appointment and/or SSN card from the Social Security Administration. What should I write on the SSN section of the Form I-765?
7) How do I write my CPT and/or past OPT employment information in the Additional Information sections of the online Form I-765?
8) Do I need to use my USC email address for myUSCIS account? What happens to my USC email address when I graduate?
9) I already submitted my OPT application to USCIS but I still have questions. How can I speak with an advisor?
10) What is the USCIS processing time for OPT applications?
11) My OPT I-20 does not have a travel endorsement (i.e., travel signature) on Page 2 or 3. Is this a problem?
12) My prior CPT information is not printed on my OPT I-20. Is this an error?
13) I have heard submitting the Form I-765 and OPT application materials to USCIS via mail is faster than the online application. Is this true and should I apply by mail?
14) Can I travel while my OPT is pending?
15) Can I enroll in classes while on OPT?
16) There’s a mistake on my OPT EAD due to USCIS Error. What should I do?
17) My OPT EAD got lost or stolen. What should I do?
18) Can students file a OPT application with USCIS when they are abroad?
19) Can students work remotely on OPT?

1) My city of birth is incorrect on my OPT I-20 and/or past I-20s. What should I do?

  • The city of birth information was added to your initial USC I-20 based on the information you entered and verified in your USC Admissions record.
  • To update or correct the city of birth in your SEVIS record, please submit the City of Birth Correction Request form.
  • Your OPT I-20 with the current/incorrect city of birth information can be submitted to USCIS along with the other OPT application materials – it will not negatively affect your OPT application. A reprint of your OPT I-20 is not necessary since your SEVIS record will contain the correct information.

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2) I applied for an RCL this semester but the “Authorized Reduced Course Load” section on my I-20 is blank. Should I be concerned?

  • No, it is fine if your RCL was approved but the “Authorized Reduced Course Load” is blank. Please disregard this section – it is not needed for OPT application purposes.

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3) The current session start and end dates on my I-20 are incorrect. Does this need to be corrected?

  • No, it is fine if your current session start and end dates are for a previous semester. Please disregard these dates – it will not impact your OPT application.

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4) Do I need to include copies of my initial I-20 from USC or any other I-20s that do not show CPT or OPT work authorization in my USCIS application?

  • No, only include copies of I-20s with work authorization.

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5) How do I submit the Form I-765 and supporting OPT documents to USCIS?


6) I applied for my SSN with an on-campus job or CPT but I am waiting to receive an appointment and/or SSN card from the Social Security Administration. What should I write on the SSN section of the Form I-765?

  • If you have a pending SSN application you should not request an SSN via the Form I-765 as this can cause delays or issues with your pending SSN application.
  • If you do not apply for an SSN on the Form I-765, it will not negatively affect your OPT application since the SSN has no bearing on OPT approval. This section of the Form I-765 is only used to indicate to USCIS whether they need to submit additional information to the SSA for issuance of an SSN/SSN card.
  • In the event your SSN application with the SSA is never processed, you can always apply for an SSN after receiving your OPT EAD card, as specified on the OIS website.

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7) How do I write my CPT and/or past OPT employment information in the Additional Information sections of the online Form I-765?

  • Students with past work authorization (CPT, OPT, STEM OPT, or economic hardship) must use the Additional Information section (Section – Evidence; Page – Post-Completion CPT or OPT; Question – Post-Completion CPT or OPT) to type their current and previous (if applicable) F-1 SEVIS ID numbers and any previously authorized part- or full-time CPT or OPT and the academic level in which it was authorized.
    • Example A: I have completed work authorization under two SEVIS IDs: N0000000000, Bachelor’s, 4 months of full-time CPT, no OPT;N0000000001, PhD, 6 months of full-time CPT.
    • Example B: My current SEVIS ID (N0000000000, Master’s) is my only SEVIS ID; therefore, I do not have work authorization on a previous SEVIS record. I have completed the following CPT with my current SEVIS record: Part-time: DATE – DATE; Full-time: DATE – DATE
  • If you have never participated in CPT, OPT, and/or have never had any other SEVIS IDs, no explanation is needed.

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8) Do I need to use my USC email address for myUSCIS account? What happens to my USC email address when I graduate?


9) I already submitted my OPT application to USCIS but I still have questions. How can I speak with an advisor?


10) What is the USCIS processing time for OPT applications?


11) My OPT I-20 does not have a travel endorsement on Page 2 or 3. Is this a problem?

  • No, a travel signature is not required to apply for OPT.

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12) My prior CPT information is not printed on my OPT I-20. Is this an error?

  • No, your OPT I-20 will only show CPT that is for the current semester. It will not be printed on the I-20 if it was completed in a prior semester.

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13) I have heard submitting the Form I-765 and OPT application materials to USCIS via mail is faster than the online application. Is this true and should I apply by mail?

  • No, there is no difference in USCIS processing times for OPT applications submitted by mail or online. OIS recommends all students apply for OPT only using the online application. Students who do not follow this recommendation and/or submit more than one application to USCIS are at risk of having their OPT rejected or denied.

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14) Can I travel while my OPT application is pending?


15) Can I enroll in classes while on OPT?

  • Per immigration regulations, students cannot be enrolled in certificate or degree seeking (in-person or online programs) while on OPT. Students may take classes that are avocational or recreational in nature and are incidental to their employment.

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16) There’s a mistake on my OPT EAD due to USCIS Error. What should I do?

  • If your OPT EAD contains an error due to a mistake made by USCIS, you will not be required to file a new Form I-765 or pay the application filing fee.  To request replacement EAD due to a USCIS error, follow these steps: 
    • STEP 1 – Optional 
      • Request a reprint of your I-20 showing your OPT is approved by submitting an I-20 Reprint Request
    • STEP 2 
      • Make a photocopy of the incorrect EAD – you must keep a copy on file for your personal records
      • Assemble the following documents: 
        • The original card containing the error 
        • A detailed letter of explanation of the card error, and 
        • Copy of most recently issued OPT I-20 
        • Supporting documentation on the correct information (e.g., copy of passport bio page) 
    • STEP 3
      • Mail your request to the center that processed your OPT application and make sure you get a tracking number. Check the USCIS website for the most up to date addresses.
  • USCIS will process your EAD replacement request within about 30 days. 
  • *** A student who applied for OPT via premium processing and received an incorrect EAD due to a USCIS error, please email psc-premium.processing@uscis.dhs.gov, explain the situation, and attach a scan copy of your EAD with the error for further guidance from USCIS***

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17) My OPT EAD got lost or stolen. What should I do?

  • If your OPT EAD has been lost, stolen, or damaged, you will need to pay the $410* fee again and submit an application for a replacement EAD with USCIS.  To file for a replacement EAD, follow these steps:
    • STEP 1
      • Request for a reprint of your I-20 showing your OPT is approved by submitting an I-20 Reprint Request
    • STEP 2 
      • Submit a new Form I-765 online to USCIS, following the Guide to Filing Form I-765 with USCIS noting the following changes: 
        • What is your reason for applying? Select “Replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged employment authorization document”.  
        • Have you previously filed Form I-765? Select “Yes”. 
        • Include: Copy of most recently issued OPT I-20, copy of I-797 OPT Approval Notice, and (if you have it) a copy of your OPT EAD 
        • You will be required to pay the $470 fee again
  • USCIS will process your EAD replacement request within about three months.

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18) Can students file a OPT application with USCIS when they are abroad?

  • No, students must be present in the U.S. at the time of the STEM OPT Extension application submission. Otherwise, the STEM OPT Extension will be denied.

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19) Can students work remotely on OPT?

  • Yes, students may work remotely in another state within the United States. They must report their remote address as their employer’s onsite address and continue to comply with all OPT Reporting Requirements.

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