Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that is related to an F-1 student’s academic program. F-1 students are eligible for 365 days of OPT. The application process takes approximately three months.
You can start your OPT the day after you graduate or up to 60 days after graduation. It is extremely important that you determine your 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.
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 Service Center 2-3 months to process your application. You cannot start employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.
Please email the following documents to firstname.lastname@example.org to request an OPT I-20:
Once all the documents are turned in to the International Affairs office, an international advisor will issue you an OPT I-20. Processing time for a new I-20 is 2-4 business days. Click here to learn how to collect your OPT I-20.
Check & Photos:
After gathering all the documents, make a copy of your application. Then place your application in an envelope with your check and pictures.
It is your responsibility to make sure USCIS receives all required application materials in a timely manner. You must mail your completed application packet with TRACKING to USCIS within 15 days after your OPT I-20 has been issued (the dates on the I-765, check and photos must also be less than 30 days old).
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For Express mail and courier deliveries (FedEx, UPS):
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
You are still considered to be in F-1 student status while on OPT, so any questions or concerns can be addressed by an International Student Adviser during this period.
You must report to the Office of International Programs within 10 working days of any change to your address, employment or immigration status via the online OPT Reporting Form.
Every 6 months I will report to the Designated School Official (DSO) verifying that my details have not changed:
My OPT start date is_____/_____/_____
My first 6 month reporting date is _____/_____/_____
My second 6 month reporting date (12 months) is_____/_____/_____
You may travel while on OPT. However, please keep in mind that you are still in F-1 status and that you will need the following in order to re-enter the United States:
You are entitled to a 60-day grace period after the last day of OPT as indicated on your EAD. You may not work during your 60-day grace period. This 60-day grace period is to return home or to start a new program. You will need to notify Office of International Programs if you plan to begin another course of study after your OPT.