Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Updated 9/29/2021

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?

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 email oisintdt@usc.edu with your full name, SEVIS ID number, 10-digit USC ID number and correct city of birth in the subject line.
  • Your OPT I-20 with the current/incorrect city of birth information can be mailed 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?

  • Students must submit their OPT application with Form I-765 and supporting documents to USCIS online via a myUSCIS account. Refer to the Guide to Filing Form I-765 with USCIS for required documents and submission instructions.
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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?

  • Please refer to the Travel section of the OIS website for guidance.
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