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Optional Practical Training

OPT Application Process

Do not submit your documents to USCIS without a DSO recommendation 

in SEVIS and the new OPT requested I-20.

  1. F-1 Students seeking to apply for OPT must submit all required documents using the OPT Submission Portal
  2. The DSO will review OPT documents and make suggestions, if necessary.
  3. The DSO will submit the OPT recommendation in SEVIS and print a new OPT requested I-20. (Note: If the application is incomplete the DSO will not process the OPT request in SEVIS.)
  4. ISSS will email the edited Form I-765 and new OPT requested I-20 to the student.
  5. The student is responsible for submitting the complete OPT application to USCIS within 30 days from the DSO recommendation date. (Review the OPT Packet for the appropriate USCIS address.)


  • The student may choose to use the ISSS address on the Form I-765. 
  • You must choose an OPT Start Date that is after the last day of commencement but before 60 days after commencement.
    • OPT is for 12 months so the end date will be one day less the next year. Example: June 5, 2022 to June 4, 2023.
  • F-1 students are responsible for submitting the OPT application to USCIS in a timely manner. Per immigration regulations, the student must file the OPT application with USCIS within 30 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into SEVIS record.
  • If your passport is within 6 months of expiring, you must apply for a new passport immediately and submit proof that you applied in your OPT application to USCIS.
  • A digital signature on all ISSS forms including the Completion of Degree form is acceptable.
  • ISSS required documents (Statement of Responsibility, Completion of Degree, and Legal Advice) are not submitted to USCIS.

Students must submit all required documents online using the ISSS OPT Submission Portal. A DSO will not review every document with you over the phone or email. Students are expected to review the OPT PowerPoint, OPT Packet, and OPT website for assistance.

Dates F-1 students may apply for OPT:

  • Spring 2023 graduates - February 10, 2023 to July 7, 2023
  • Summer 2023 graduates - May 7, 2023 to October 4, 2023
  • Fall 2023 graduates - September 9, 2023 to February 6, 2024

As an F-1 student, you may apply to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorization for 12 months of temporary employment known as Optional Practical Training (OPT). The employment should be directly related to your major area of study and can only be used once per degree level. To be eligible for OPT, you must be in legal F-1 status at the time of application and have completed one academic year (Fall/Spring semesters) as a full-time student. OPT can be authorized at the following times:

Pre Completion OPT

Pre Completion OPT- Before completion of your studies must comply with one of three situations:

  1. Part-time (20 hours a week or less) during the fall or spring semesters
  2. Full or part-time during summer vacation if you are currently enrolled and intend to register for the following semester
  3. Full-time during fall or spring if you have completed all coursework and are in the thesis, dissertation or comprehensive exams only phase of your degree.

Post Completion OPT

Post Completion OPT- After completion of your studies (most students choose this option) If choosing this option:

  1. Your OPT application must be received by the DHS service center no later than 60 days after your program completion date.
  2.  However, it is strongly recommended to apply 90 days before you complete your studies. 
  3. Your 12 months of OPT must be completed within 14 months of the date of completion of your studies.

How to Apply

Read all the steps in this process carefully. Then gather and prepare all the items you need for your OPT application.

  1. Review OPT Overview Presentation and the OPT Workshop.
  2. Download and Complete the OPT Application Packet.
    1. Statement of Responsibility Form.
      • You must choose an OPT Start Date that is after the last day of commencement but before 60 days after commencement. 
      • OPT is for 12 months so the end date will be one day less the next year. Example: June 5, 2021 to June 4, 2022.
    2. Legal Advice and ISSS Advising Statement of Understanding.
    3. Completion of Degree Form.
  3. Typed and Complete Form I-765 - Application for Employment Authorization - Do not submit to USCIS.
  4. Submit required documents to ISSS for a DSO recommendation in SEVIS before submitting documents to USCIS.

Remember: All required documents must be received by USCIS no later than 30 days after the DSO updates SEVIS with the OPT recommendation.

Do NOT proceed to the next steps until you have received your OPT I-20 issued by ISSS

File your OPT application

Apply online (Strongly recommended):

  • Create a USCIS Online Account:
  • Complete Form I-765 with digital signature, submit all supporting documents, and pay filing fee online.
  • Update information, check case status, and correspond with USCIS online.

  1. Pay by credit card:
  2. Passport-style photo - review Passport Photo Requirements (upload photo to USCIS website)
  3. Color copy of your Valid Passport
    1. If your passport expires within 6 months from when you apply for OPT, you must apply for a new passport first.
  4. Most Recent I-94 and Travel History
  5. Any Form I-797 Notice of Action (if applicable)
  6. Any previously issued OPT EAD card (if applicable)
  7. Copies of ALL I-20s with CPT or OPT authorization only (not all I-20s).

FAQ and Resources


    • Before you graduate:  If you have just applied for OPT but are still within your program of study you may travel as normal.
    • Can I Travel if my OPT is pending?
      •  Yes, but traveling during this time should be undertaken with caution. USCIS may send you a request for evidence while you are away, however, so you would want to make sure you have provided a correct U.S. address both to your DSO and on the application and would be able to send in requested documents. Also, if USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States. Like a request for further information, USCIS can only send the EAD to your U.S. address.
    • Can I reenter the U.S. if I left on OPT?
      • If USCIS has approved your OPT you will be expected to have your EAD in hand to re-enter the United States, in addition to your travel signature Form I-20, valid passport and visa, and a letter of employment if you have one. If you exceed the limits on unemployment while outside the United States, you will not be eligible to re-enter the United States in F-1 status.
        *If your Visa is expired, you should take caution when traveling. Some F-1 students have difficulty getting a new F-1 visa from the embassy in their country while on OPT. If you do travel make sure to have your employers letter indicating that you are expected to return. 

    For more tips on international traveling click here.

    Refer to the following website for more information on travel re-entry on an F-1 visa.

  • Please see the attached SEVP OPT Policy Guidance for more information and examples on determining the direct relationship between employment and a student’s major.

  • Fixing EAD errors made by the Potomac Service Center

    If your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card was approved by the Potomac Service Center (PSC) and contains incorrect information that you believe is due to USCIS error, please follow the instructions below:

    • Submit a letter that explains the error. Include the EAD card containing the incorrect information,documents showing that USCIS made an error (such as a copy of the application you sent to USCIS with your correct information, a copy of your birth certificate, with your correct name). 
    • Send your letter and supporting documents to the Potomac Service Center at 

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

    Potomac Service Center

    2200 Potomac Center Drive, Stop 2425

    Arlington, VA 20598-2425

    If USCIS made an error, you do not need to submit a new Form I-765 or pay a new filing fee. 

    Fixing EAD errors made by the applicant, or name changes

    If an EAD approved by the PSC contains incorrect information that is not due to a USCIS error (e.g. the applicant made an error on the application, or has had a name change they want to be reflected on the EAD), the individual will have to apply and pay for a replacement EAD. The USCIS EAD webpage instructs:

    If your EAD contains incorrect information that is not due to a USCIS error, you must submit:

    • A new Form 1-765,
    • The filing fee, if required (or a request for a fee waiver),
    • Any documents specified in the form instructions, and 
    • The card containing the error. 
    • For F-1 students currently maintaining status under the H-1B “Cap-Gap” extension, lengthy H-1B processing times are more likely to result in a lapse in work authorization as H-1B visa approvals become less likely to arrive via mail by October 1.
    • Students in F-1 status who have been pursuing employment through valid Optional Practical Training (OPT) must stop their employment in the United States after October 1 until their H-1B petitions are approved.
    • Travel outside the U.S. after an H-1B petition is filed is not recommended for any applicant requesting an initial change of status to H-1B classification.
    • Travel during this timeframe may revoke Cap-Gap privileges, including legal work status for F-1/OPT students and could give rise to a determination by USCIS that the candidate abandoned their H-1B petition.
  • Students on OPT are not eligible for the student health insurance plan offered by Texas State University. In most cases, students on OPT are provided health insurance by their employer.

    Alternatively, students may choose to enroll in health insurance coverage by purchasing an individual plan.

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) offers best practices information on Optional Practical Training (OPT) as a courtesy to international students under a Texas State University issued Form I-20. All information provided is not considered legal advice. You may choose to compile and submit your OPT application on your own and inform ISSS accordingly through email.