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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Frequently Asked Questions | OPT Application | OPT Extension | OPT Reporting | H1-B Cap-Gap

OPT Application

Eligibility Requirements

  • The student must have been enrolled full-time for at least two consecutive semesters and be in valid F-1 status at the time of application.
  • Graduate Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA; Undergraduates must have a 2.0 GPA.

How to determine your OPT Start Date

You can start your OPT the day after you graduate or up to 60 days after graduation. It is extremely important that you determine you OPT start date at the beginning of your final semester. Any questions or concerns about OPT start date can be addressed by an International Student Adviser.

OPT Start Date Worksheet

Application Deadline

The earliest you can apply for OPT is 90 days before your graduation date. Please apply approximately 90 days before you plan to start your OPT since the application has to be sent to USCIS. It will take the USCIS Nebraska Service Center 2-3 months to process your application. You cannot start employment until you received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.

Application Procedure

Please bring the following completed documents to the International Programs Office to apply for OPT.

STEP REQUIRED DOCUMENTS (Submit to the ISS Office to apply for OPT)
  • Check for $380 made payable to: Department of Homeland Security (A sample check is attached here and please DO NOT sign the back of the check) 
  • 2 recent passport-style photos on white background. The photo must be 2x2 inches; the images must be no more than 1 3/8 inches from the top of the head to the chin. Your name and I-94 number must be printed in pencil on the back of the photos. For an example, see photo.
  • A copy of your most recent I-94 printout

You can start your OPT up to 60 days after the last day of your last semester of study. F-1 students are eligible for 365 days of OPT. 

  • Printed unofficial transcript of your grades from CougarNet
  • A copy of your picture page and visa page from your passport

(The expiration date should be notated on the picture page. If not, please attach a page that shows the expiration date of your passport. Your passport should not be expired when you apply.)

  • When all the documents are turned in, ISS will request an I-20 indicated your request for OPT. It usually takes 24-48 hours to process this I-20 request.
  • Once the I-20 has been issued, you must sign the new I-20. ISS cannot mail the application until you have signed your OPT I-20. 

The Office of International Programs should receive an official USCIS receipt notice within a month of mailing your application. After receiving this, you may check on the status of your application in the Case Status Online section of the USCIS website.

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