Post Completion OPT


Post-Completion OPT Tutorial

FAQ on RFEs, Rejections, and Denials


What is Post-Completion OPT?

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The work students pursue while on Post-Completion OPT must be directly related to his/her/their major field of study. Post-Completion OPT may be used either 1) after the completion of a degree program or 2) after completion of all course requirements other than thesis, project or comprehensive final exam. Post-Completion OPT is generally issued for a duration of 12 months, but may be for less time if the student has previously applied and been granted Pre-Completion OPT. 


How do I apply for Post-Completion OPT?

1) View the Post-OPT Tutorial.

2) Submit a completed OPT I-20 Request Form to ISSS.

3) Effective May 15, 2020, pay the one-time $150.00 administrative Post-Completion OPT fee by going to this link. Make sure you select the correct payment option for the "OPT fee" (it's the first item on the menu.) Attach proof of payment receipt along with your Post-Completion OPT application.

3) Wait for new OPT I-20 to be issued. ISSS will send you an email when it is ready for pick-up.

4) Pick up your I-20 and prepare your OPT packet. USCIS must receive your complete OPT application within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 being issued. Refer to the checklist of items to submit to USCIS, from OPT I-20 request form instructions. Make sure to visit USCIS's website for the most up-to-date forms (I-765, G-1145) and instructions. For help with Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization view ISSS' I-765 Completion Guidelines.

5) Optional: Attend an OPT Packet Review Workshop. Check ISSS calendar for dates.

6) Mail OPT application packet to USCIS. Refer to USCIS I-765 filing locations for the mailing address and check out these OPT Filing Tips & Reminders before mailing your application. Approximately 2-4 weeks after mailing, you should receive a receipt notice with a USCIS case number.

7)Wait 2-4 months to receive work authorization from USCIS, approval notice and EAD card. Wait for the EAD card to arrive before beginning any employment (paid or unpaid).

8) Report your employment through the SEVP Portal. For instructions on how to access and use the SEVP Portal, please click on this link SEVP Portal Guidelines and watch our SEVP Portal Tutorial.


While Form I-765 is Pending - What Should I Do?

Check Processing Time Online

Click here to check I-765 application processing times at Potomac Service Center.

Under <Forms> select ’I-765’, for <Service Center> select ‘Potomac Service Center’, click ‘Get Processing Time’ button.

Check your Case Status Online

Enter the Receipt Number from your USCIS receipt notice (Form I-797C). You also have an option to sign up for an account to get automatic case updates, including U.S. Postal Service (USPS) tracking number. This is different from G-1145 E-Notification of Application Acceptance.

To inquire about your case outside normal processing times, Submit a Case Inquiry.

Update Your Address

Have you moved after applying for OPT?  Update your mailing address with USCIS here:Online Change of Address.

Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery

Sign up for this service to receive delivery status notifications. 

Label Your Mailbox

To ensure proper and timely delivery of any USCIS notifications including the application approval and EAD card, we strongly recommend you add a label to your mailbox with your full name (Last and First Name used on Form I-765).

Practice the Art of Being Patient

USCIS I-765 processing times range from 3 to 5 months. While you wait for USCIS to process your application, focus on securing your dream job, practice your hobbies, and try your best best not to worry about why your application hasn’t been approved yet.

Be patient and enjoy your free time! Once your OPT is approved you will be required to work full-time in order to maintain F-1 status and be able to legally stay in the U.S.


After Form I-765 is Approved - What Should I Do?

OPT Reporting Requirements

Once you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and it becomes active (EAD start date), you are required to comply with federal OPT reporting requirements in order to maintain F-1 status. Click here to learn more about OPT Reporting Responsibilities.

EAD Typographic Error(s)

After receiving your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), check the card for any errors, especially the work authorization dates.

If you receive a receipt notice, document or card from USCIS that contains a typographic error, submit a USCIS Service request.

Depending on the nature of the error (name, date of birth) you may need to return the card to USCIS to obtain a corrected replacement card.


How Do I Maintain F-1 Status While on OPT?

While on OPT you must follow certain rules to maintain your F-1 status:

  1. You may only work from the start date to the end date listed on the EAD (no more than 12 months of work authorization).
  2. All employment (paid and unpaid) must be related to your major field of study.
  3. Report all employment and address changes to ISSS within 10 days of the change. You will use the SEVP Portal. The following information must be reported within 10 days:
  • Your residential address
  • Phone number, email address
  • Employer’s name, address
  • Job title
  • Start and/or end dates of employment
  • Any periods of unemployment
  • Date you are exiting the U.S. (if you leave prior to the end date of your OPT)