Important OPT Information for Spring 2021 Graduates

Updated 4/26/2021

As you prepare to apply for 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?

  • 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 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.

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.

3) 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?

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

4) 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.

5) My I-94 place of arrival is in a non-U.S. city (e.g., Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates). What should should I indicate as my place of arrival on the Form I-765?

  • As indicated on the Guide to Filing Form I-765 with USCIS you will need to enter your location as it appears on your most recent I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, even if is it for a non-U.S. location. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has numerous international preclearance sites in Canada, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, and the Caribbean – they are all acceptable as places of arrival for the Form I-765.

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.

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.

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?