- Students on post-completion OPT should use the SEVP Portal to comply with reporting requirements. Once your post-completion OPT has been approved, you will receive notification from DHS to create an SEVP Portal account, please follow the instructions provided or visit the SEVP Portal Help Page for more information. You are responsible for reporting changes in your address and employment through this portal. I also encourage you to report this information to International Programs using the OPT Employment Reporting Form.
- It is important that you list your preferred email address on the Optional Practical Training Request Form to insure you receive the notification to set up the SEVP Portal. You may contact International Programs to reset the portal access or if you have questions about the process.
AM I ELIGIBLE FOR OPT?
- To be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) you must
- be an F-1 student who has been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year (one fall semester and one spring semester, summer semester does not count towards the one full academic year requirement)
- be in good academic standing at the time of the application
- have an active SEVIS record
- submit the request to USCIS and International Programs no more that 60 days after completing all your degree requirements
- OPT employment MUST be directly related to your program of study and appropriate for your education level.
- International Programs will recommend you for OPT. You must submit the application to USCIS for authorization. For post-completion OPT, only full-time employment can be requested. Once an application for OPT has been submitted to USCIS and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued, it is difficult to change or cancel. This process can take 90 days or longer. to see estimated processing times, please visit the USCIS' Case Processing Times page.
HOW MUCH OPT CAN I USE?
- Students are eligible for 1 year (12 months) of OPT for each new degree level. Students with majors in STEM fields may also qualify for the 24-month STEM extension. Please see the section on STEM OPT for more information.
WHEN SHOULD I APPLY?
- Applications for post-completion OPT should be submitted approximately 90 days before the projected start date. OPT applications must be received by USCIS BEFORE the end of a student's 60-day grace period. Applications received after the end of the 60-day grace period will not be approved.
- The following are estimated application date ranges for timely application processing:
- May (spring) graduates: apply February-March
- August (summer) graduates: variable, depending on completion date but generally May/June
- December (fall) graduates: apply September-October
USCIS has also created an Excel spreadsheet that allows users to calculate the amount of OPT available and generate suggested application timeline based on the Program End Date and the desired OPT start date. Click here for the Post-Completion OPT Planning Tool.
HOW DO I APPLY?
1. Submit the following to International Programs for a RECOMMENDATION
You will receive an email notification from DocuSign when the OPT recommendation has been completed and your new I-20 is ready for pick-up. Normal processing time for OPT recommendations is 5-10 business day.
You will be issued two (2) new forms I-20. Submit one (1) form with the OPT application, keep the other form for your records. Please be sure to sign both of your new forms I-20.
2. Prepare documents to send to USIC
USCIS must receive the OPT application no more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation has been issued. Applications received more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation will be denied.
The following documents are required to apply for the EAD (OPT work permit). You can find all immigration forms at www.uscis.gov under “Forms and Fees".
- Completed Form I-765
- One original copy of your I-20 with the OPT endorsement on Page 2. Please make sure that you sign the new form I-20 on Page 1. You will be provided two (2) copies of your I-20; you should mail one and keep the other with your immigration documents
- Two recent photographs on thin, glossy paper per instructions from USCIS.
- Lightly print your name, SEVIS ID, and Roosevelt University on the back of each photo using a pencil or felt pen..
- The photos should show a full-frontal facial position.
- The photos should not be larger than 2 x 2 inches, with the distance from the top of the head to just below the chin about 1 1/4 inches.
- Your head must be bare unless you are wearing headwear as required by your religion.
- Do not cut to size or staple.
- Please verify the application fee using the USCIS Fee Calculator. Select form I-765
- If paying by check or money order, make payments to the order of "U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
- If paying by credit card, complete and sign Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, and place the completed form on top of your application when you file it. For more information visit https://www.uscis.gov/forms/fingerprints/pay-a-credit-card.
- Photocopy of your passport ID pages: photo page, page with passport validity dates, including renewal page if original has expired, and pages showing amendments such as name changes, corrections, etc.
- Copy of all US visas in your current passport (all types)
- Printed online I-94 record. Click here to print your I-94.
- Photocopies of all previous EADs, if you have been issued one for previous work authorization.
3. Mail application and all supporting documents to the USCIS
Mail the following documents directly to USCIS to apply for the EAD (your OPT card). Do NOT mail the application until after you have received your new I-20 with a recommendation for OPT.
USCIS will mail your EAD card to your home address. If you move and change your address before you receive your EAD card, you must call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to update your address. Mail from USCIS is not forwarded by the US Postal Service, so it is best that you do not change your address while waiting for your EAD.
Please note that you can list a separate mailing address on the I-765 if you think you will be moving before the card arrives.
Please visit the USCIS website to verify the Filing Addresses for the Form I-765.
Remember, USCIS must receive the OPT application no more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation has been issued. Please send the application in as soon as you have received the recommendation to ensure that your application is properly filed.
WHEN CAN I START MY OPT EMPLOYMENT?
You must have your EAD card to begin employment. You can begin working on or after the start date listed on the EAD and may until the end date on the EAD card.
UNEMPLOYMENT WHILE ON OPT
- F-1 students on post-completion OPT are limited to 90 days of unemployment.
- Students who are unemployed beyond the 90-day limit may be denied future immigration benefits and are in violation of F-1 student status.
- You must report your employment using the SEVP Portal. Failure to report this information may result in termination of your SEVIS record and F- student status. If you do not receive notification from SEVP to set up the portal, please contact OIP.
- Volunteer work, internships, unpaid employment, and part-time jobs may be counted as employment. If you do not find a job within the first two months of OPT, you may look for a volunteer position and/or an internship while you continue to search for a full-time, paid position. Please note that part-time employment should be at least 20 hours/week.
- If you are unable to find employment, you should make plans to change your status or leave the USA. If you will leave the USA, please contact the Office of International Programs to notify us of your departure so this information can be reported on your SEVIS record.
You are still an F-1 Student while you are on OPT. This means that you are still responsible for reporting information to OIP and USCIS. Report your employment and change of address using the SEVP Portal. I also encourage you to report this information to International Programs using the OPT Employment Reporting Form.
Students must also report any changes in their address within 10 days of moving.
You are responsible for reporting any change in the information to International Programs within 10 days of the change. This includes adding an second employer, quitting or losing employment, change of job title, etc. The required information includes the following information:
- Your current address
- Explain how your employment is related to your course work - this is a brief statement about how your employment relates to the degree you completed at Roosevelt.
- For example: I received a MS in Accounting, I am working for my employer as a staff accountant.
- Are you Self-Employed (yes or no)
- Employer Name
- Employer Address
- Employer EIN (if available)
- Job Title
- Start Date
- End Date (if you change jobs or leave a position, you must report your last date of employment)
- Are you employed Full-time or Part-time (how many hours do you work per week)
- Supervisor (First and Last Name, Telephone Number, Email Address)
- If you have any additional information you would like to include in your record about your employment, you may add "Student Remarks"
DHS recommends that students keep clear records for all periods of employment and unemployment during OPT. Students should keep a record of all reports made to the Office of International Programs as well as other proof of employment. The following list contains suggested evidence of employment:
- Pay roll or income tax information (including proof of filing your taxes)
- Description of work
- Signed letter from employer stating how nature of the work is related to student’s degree, if not already implicit in job description
You may be required to prove the existence (or nonexistence) of periods of unemployment in future petitions for immigration benefits; therefore, it is very important to document the start and end dates of any periods of unemployment, along with the employment information above. Remember, this is your responsibility.
OPT TRAVEL ADVISORY
Traveling outside of the US while your OPT is pending can be a risky affair with no certainty that you will be allowed back in. After you have received your EAD card there is still a risk of not being permitted back into the US, especially if you are not employed. If travel is necessary, you should carry all of the following documentation with you when traveling:
- Your EAD card
- A travel endorsement signature on your current SEVIS I- 20 from International Programs
- A letter from your employer confirming your OPT status and stating the purpose of your travel.
Note: If you do not possess a current, valid visa at the time of travel, you must apply for a new F-1 visa for re-entry to the US. OIP cannot guarantee re-entry to the USA while on OPT.
AUTOMATIC “CAP-GAP” EXTENSION FOR H-1B APPLICANTS
The F-1/H-1B “Cap-Gap” occurs when an F-1 student's status expires before they can begin approved H-1B employment in the next fiscal year beginning October 1. The Cap-Gap Extension applies to all F-1 beneficiaries of H-1B and concurrent change of status petitions. Under this rule, F-1 status is extended while the H-1B petition is pending; F-1 students may remain in the U.S. until October 1 of the next fiscal year when their H-1B status begins. The student must have a valid EAD card at the time the H-1B application is submitted to USCIS in April.
Current interpretation of the new provision suggests the extension applies not only to F-1 status, but also to work authorization, through October 1. Limits of OPT unemployment continue through the Cap-Gap Extension period. The Cap-Gap Extension terminates when USCIS rejects, denies, or revokes the H-1B petition. F-1 students may only benefit from automatic Cap-Gap extension if they have not violated their status.