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 advisor.
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, because the application has to be sent to USCIS. It will take the USCIS Service Center two-three months to process your application. You cannot start employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.
Please stop by the office and drop off the following hard copies to request an OPT I-20:
Once all documents are submitted to the Office of International Affairs, an international student advisor will issue you an OPT I-20. Processing time for a new I-20 is two-four business days. Find out how to collect your OPT I-20.
Check and Photos:
After gathering all documents, make a copy of your application. 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 advisor during this period.
You must report to the SIUE Office of International Affairs within 10 working days of any change to your address, employment or immigration status via the online OPT Reporting Form.
Every six months, I will report to the Designated School Official (DSO) verifying that my details have not changed:
My OPT start date is_____/_____/_____
My first six month reporting date is _____/_____/_____
My second six 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 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 start a new program. You will need to notify the Office of International Affairs if you plan to begin another course of study after your OPT.