Guidelines For Filling Your OPT Applications Online

Submitting Your OPT Application Online

The ISSO provides general guidance on your OPT/STEM OPT application based on information obtained from reliable sources and reflecting our years of experience in working with students. We make every attempt to ensure that we provide you with the most up to date information available. Any advice provided to you by our office (as well as the information on our website) does not constitute legal advice. However, the OPT/STEM OPT application is a personal application for which you are responsible; the application preparation and USCIS case decision will vary depending on the facts at issue in your particular case. The ISSO does its best to provide you with the most current guidance, but please be mindful that USCIS may change its interpretation of these policies, procedures, regulations, and eligibility requirements at any time. The ISSO is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from USCIS.

Recommended Steps for Completing the I-765 Application Online

  1. Create your online USCIS account:
  2. Gather the following documents:
  • Digital 2x2 color passport photo that meets USCIS specifications
  • A scan of your passport photograph page
  • A scan of the front and back of any previous EAD (Employment Authorization Document) cards, if applicable
  • A scan of any previous I-20s with CPT (Curricular Practical Therapy) or OPT information, if available
  • A digital copy of your I-20 with an OPT recommendation
    • Must be issued within the last 30 days for post-completion OPT and within the last 60 days for STEM extension OPT. You MUST consult with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) to receive a new I-20 before filing for your OPT online.
    • The I-20 must be signed by the ISSO and by you. You can use a digital or handwritten signature
  • Your most recent form I-94.
  • A credit card with which you can pay the filing fee
  1. File a form online
    • Application for Employment Authorization (I-765). Please email ISSO a draft copy of the I-765 online application for review before final submission of your OPT application on the USCIS website. You are responsible for confirming the accuracy of all information so please review everything before final submission.

The Application Details
Post-completion OPT, Category C3B

Getting Started

Basis of eligibility

  • Select C3B

Reason for applying

  • Select Initial permission to accept employment

Have you previously filed Form I-765?

  • Select No if you have not previously applied for work authorization with an I-765
    Select Yes if you have previously filed an I-765 (provide evidence)

Is someone assisting you with completing this application?

  • Select No
About You

Your name

Your contact information

Describe yourself

When and where you were born

Your immigration information

  • What is your country of citizenship or nationality?
  • What is your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Number?
  • When did you last arrive in the United States?
  • Date of arrival
  • Place of arrival (airport)
  • Status at last arrival
    • Select F-1 unless you changed your status after your most recent arrival
  • What is the passport number of your most recently issued passport?
  • What is your travel document number (if any)? You will likely leave this section blank.
  • What is the expiration date of your passport or travel document?
  • What country issued your passport or travel document?
  • What is your current immigration status or category?
    • Select F-1
  • What is your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Number?
    • Take a look at the top left of your most recent I-20. Your SEVIS ID is listed there.
  • Other Information
    • What is your A-number?
    • Check “I do not have or know my A-Number.”
  • What is your USCIS Online Account Number?
    • Check “I do not have or know my USCIS Online Account Number.”
  • Has the Social Security Administration (SSA) ever officially issued a Social Security Card to you?
  • Do you want the SSA to issue you a Social Security card?
    • If you do not have a social security number or do not have your card, you should select “Yes.” You will need to complete the required information so that the SSA can issue you a Social Security Card.
  • 2x2 photo
  • Form I-94
  • Previous Employment Authorization Document if applicable.
    • If you do not have a former EAD, you should upload a copy of the photo page of your passport.
  • I-20s with former CPT or OPT details, if applicable. You should include previous degree level CPT and OPT if available. If you do not have these documents available, see “Additional Information” below.
  • Form I-20
    • This is the I-20 you will receive from ISSO after submitting your OPT I-20 Request Form to ISSO. DO NOT upload a previous I-20 without an OPT recommendation that is older than 30 days. This I-20 must be signed by a DSO (Designated School Official) and by you. A digital or handwritten signature can be used here.
Additional Information  
  • If you have previously authorized CPT or OPT and do not have former I-20s with these details, you should do the following:
    • Section: Evidence
    • Page: Post-completion CPT or OPT
    • Question: Post-completion CPT or OPT
  • More Information:
    • Type of previously authorized practical training (CPT, OPT, etc.)
    • Dates of previously authorized practical training
    • Application status (approved, denied, or withdrawn)
    • Degree Level (bachelors or masters)
    • Receipt or Card Number if known
Review and Submit
  • You virtually met with your DSO to review application and received a new I-20 with OPT recommendation
  • Read and agree to the “applicant’s statement”
  • Digitally sign
  • Pay the application fee
  • Submit your OPT application
Check Your Status

After you mail your application package:

  • USCIS will send you a receipt notice (I-797 Notice of Action) confirming receipt of your OPT application, assigning a receipt date and a case number. Carefully review the notice to make sure your name is spelled correctly. If it is not, contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center immediately.
  • You may use the case number on your receipt notice to check the status of your application online at It is normal for your case status to say "initial review" for most of the 3-5 month processing period.
  • You may not begin employment until USCIS approves the OPT application and you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Authorized OPT dates will be on your EAD. You may receive your Approval Notice before your EAD card. The Approval Notice is not proof of employment authorization! You must receive your EAD card AND the date on the card has to have occurred in order to for you to be eligible to work. This includes unpaid employment.
  • You may not continue to work on campus after the expiration date on your I-20 and the OPT employment authorization date.
  • Make sure to email ISSO a copy of your EAD card along with your OPT change form that has all your new employment information.
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