Post-completion OPT occurs after an F-1 student completes their program of study. The purpose of post-completion OPT is for an F-1 student to gain practical training (as employment/internship) in their major field of study.
Do not submit an application for OPT to USCIS without thoroughly reading the instructions below first
You cannot submit an application to USCIS without a new OPT I-20 issued by the ISSS office.
A student can use up to 12 months of post-completion OPT (with the option of a 2-year extension if the student has a STEM degree) per degree level. If a student has used any of the 12 months of OPT during their program (pre-completion OPT) this will be deducted from the overall 12 months allowed for post-completion OPT.
Although post-completion OPT is always requested as "full-time", a student is only required to work a minimum of 20 hours per/week to maintain status while on OPT. Students are also allowed to be unemployed for up to 90 days during the approved post-completion OPT period.
- Students are eligible to apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before they complete their program, through 60 days after (a 5 month application window). Students can apply to start their post-completion OPT as early as the day after they complete their program and as late as 60 days after their program ends (students can choose any start date in between the 60-day grace period after their program ends).
- Students must have completed at least one academic year in their program to be eligible for post-completion OPT (meaning your program must be a minimum of two semesters to be eligible). If you are an exchange student, you must have completed two semesters at Temple University to be eligible.
- Time spent studying full-time in a status other than F-1: an F-1 student need not have been specifically in F-1 status while studying, provided he or she was lawfully enrolled as a full-time student at a service-approved school in another nonimmigrant status that does not prohibit full-time study (such as H-4). You must be in F-1 status at the time you submit your applicaion for OPT to the USCIS.
- You must be in valid F-1 status to be eligible to apply.
- You must have a valid passport to apply. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months at the time of applying, if your passport will be expiring soon, you should apply to renew it as soon as possible.
1. There are a list of documents you are required to gather for the OPT application. To see the list of required documents, please click on the "Application Documents" tab to the right.
2. You will submit copies of these documents to the online OPT application for our office for review. You also will be asked to provide the contact information of your academic advisor in the online OPT request form. Once you submit your form, your academic advisor will receive an e-mail to complete their form. Their form will ask basic questions about your academic program. We cannot process your OPT application until your academic advisor completes their form. It is your responsibility to ensure your academic advisor is aware they will need to complete this form.
3. Our office will review the documents and issue you a new I-20 for the OPT application to USCIS. This process takes 5-7 business days.
4. You will receive an e-mail from the ISSS advisor that has processed your OPT I-20 with instructions for the next steps.
5. You will mail the OPT application documents along with the new OPT I-20 to USCIS.
6. USCIS will receipt your application within 2 to 4 weeks. You will receive a receipt notice in the mail with a case number.
7. USCIS will process your application in approximately 1-5 months (processing times vary), you can check the status of your application online and see average processing times online here (choose I765 under form type and Potomac Service Center until field office).
8. Once USICS approves your application, you will receive an approval notice and an EAD (employment authorization document) card in the mail. The EAD is your proof of work authorization for your future employer.
Below is a list of the required documents you will need for your OPT application. Please prepare these documents first, then you will upload copies of these documents online for our office to review:
- Form I‐765: The pdf form is available at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765. Do not click the "file online" button! Make sure you download and complete the pdf version of the form (scroll down towards the bottom of the page under the Forms and Document Downloads section to download the pdf).
- We will review the pdf version of the form to make sure all responses are entered correctly.
- After we issue the OPT I-20, you can then choose to file online with USCIS, you will not need the pdf version of the I-765 form for the online application. DO NOT FILE YOUR OPT APPLICATION TO USCIS ONLINE UNTIL OUR OFFICE HAS ISSUED YOU A NEW OPT I20.
- For the eligibility category question on the I-765, it is (c)(3)(B) for post-completion OPT.
- Form G-1145: See Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (this form is optional but recommended) *Only needed if filing to USCIS by mail
- If you have been granted CPT before, you must provide a copy of your CPT I-20(s).
- If you have been granted OPT before, you must provide a copy of the OPT I-20 and EAD card issued to you by USCIS for this authorization
- Application fee (currently $410.00)
- If you are filing to USCIS by mail, you may pay the fee with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Make sure the date on the check is written as “Month/Day/Year”.
- A file of a color passport-style photograph of yourself taken recently: For the criteria of the photo, please see: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/photos.html
- If you are filing to USCIS by mail, you will need two of the passport photos printed, 2 inches x 2 inches in size.
- A copy of your most recent Form I‐94 (Can be found online: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home#section)
- Copy of your unexpired passport photo and passport validity page(s). The passport must be valid. If your passport will be expiring less than 6 months from now, you must apply to renew it.
When you apply for post-completion OPT, you will need to inform our office the start and end date you would like to request for your OPT. You can choose any start date that is within 60 days after your program completion date.
You must verify your program completion date with your academic advisor before you apply. Your program completion date is not the same as your graduation ceremony date. For most students this will be the date of your last final exam, paper submission, presentation, dissertation submission or defense, class attendance, or the last day of the semester. For example, you are an undergraduate student and your last Final exam is May 6th. This means you can select any OPT start date between May 7th and July 5th.
If you don't apply for OPT early and/or USCIS takes longer to process your OPT application than the start date you requested USCIS will most likely change the start date to when they actually process the application. However, they do not change the end date you requested so you may lose OPT time (the authorization will be less than 12 months).
NOTE for PhD Students: Your academic advisor may select your dissertation defense date as your program completion OR if you have an assistantship from Temple University you may select the last day of your Graduating Semester/Session. If you have an assistantship, you must complete your employment by the end of the final semester/session. You must be registered in your final semester/session. If for some reason you do not complete degree requirements by the program completion date on your OPT I-20, you may complete your degree after this date as long as you get your diploma before the expiration of post-completion OPT.
If you haven't used any of your 12 months of OPT during your program, the end date can be 12 months after the start date you pick. You cannot extend your post-completion OPT if you don't select the full 12 months. OPT can only be extended for a period of 2 years if you have earned a STEM degree in the U.S. Please also be advised, you cannot change your requested OPT dates after you submit the application to USCIS.
OPT Applicants should expect a 3 to 5 month wait for USCIS to issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Applicant may not begin working until s/he has the EAD card in hand.
The types of employment allowed during the initial 12-month period of OPT include (these DO NOT apply to the STEM Extension):
- Paid employment.
- Students may work part time (at least 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full time in a job related to their field of study.
- Unpaid employment.
- Students on the initial 12-month OPT may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The applicant may not "volunteer" for a position that is normally paid. The work must be at least 20 hours per week. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.
- Multiple employers.
- Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program.