OPT Frequently Asked Questions

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is meant to give F-1 students practical experience in their major field of study. Students can apply for it either during their program of study or after graduation. The purpose of this page is to provide answers to frequently asked questions. Please see the ISSS Optional Practical Training webpage for more information on workshops, eligibility, the application process, reporting requirements, and extensions. 

General OPT

  1. What is OPT? 
    OPT stands for Optional Practical Training. OPT gives F-1 students practical experience in their major field of study. Students can apply for OPT either during their program of study (pre-completion OPT) or after graduation (post-completion OPT and STEM extension).


  2. What is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?
    The EAD is the document issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after approving an OPT application. The EAD looks like a driver's license, and is the document an F-1 student would present to their employer as proof of employment authorization.
    EAD example


  3. What is my immigration status while on OPT?
    OPT is a benefit of F-1 status. Student are still in F-1 status during the OPT period.  OPT is not a separate immigration status.


  4. How much OPT am I eligible for?
    Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT per higher degree level. For example, an F-1 student will be eligible for 12 months of OPT with the completion of a bachelor's degree. After completing a master's degree, the F-1 student will be eligible for an additional 12 months of OPT. However, if a student uses 12 months of OPT after completion of a master's degree, the student will not be eligible for an additional period of OPT after completion of a second master's degree or a subsequent bachelor's degree. The student would need to complete a PhD degree to be eligible for another 12 months of OPT.


  5. How much does it cost to apply for OPT?
    The current fee is listed on the USCIS website under “Filing Fee.” NOTE: Biometrics fee is not required.

OPT Request and Application

  1. How do I apply for OPT?
    Visit the "How to apply" section of the ISSS OPT website.

  2. Do I need a job offer letter to apply for OPT?
    No, a job offer is not required to apply. Note, students in a period of post-completion OPT cannot accrue more than 90 days of unemployment once the approved OPT period begins. 

  3. How early can I submit my I-765 OPT application to USCIS?
    1. Pre-completion OPT: Up to 90 days before completing one full academic year OR up to 90 days before the proposed OPT start date, if the student has already completed one full academic year.
    2. Post-completion OPT: Up to 90 days prior to the program completion date. The program completion date is typically the same as the graduation date. PhD students may choose their graduation date, defense date, or a date after completing coursework as their program completion date.
    3. STEM Extension: Up to 90 days prior to the post-completion OPT end date.

  4. What is an OPT I-20?
    It is the I-20 your ISSS advisor issues after recommending OPT in your SEVIS record. It shows the OPT recommendation and requested OPT start and end dates on page 2.

    A copy of your hand signed and dated OPT I-20 must be submitted with your I-765 OPT application.

    USCIS rejects or denies I-765 OPT applications submitted without new OPT I-20s, and the application fee may not be refunded. Contact your ISSS advisor immediately if you submitted an I-765 OPT application without your new OPT I-20.

    30 days - USCIS must receive your I-765 OPT application and OPT I-20 within 30 days of the date your OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS. USCIS rejects or denies applications received after 30 days of the entry of the OPT recommendation in SEVIS. If USCIS denies your I-765 OPT application, you may not be eligible to reapply. Not sure what date your OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS? Contact your ISSS advisor.

  5. How do I get an OPT I-20?
    To request an OPT I-20, submit the OPT Request form in ISSS Link

  6. How long will it take for my OPT Request to be approved by ISSS?
    ISSS processes complete OPT Request forms within 5 business days of submission.
    1. Pre-completion OPT: The OPT Request is considered complete after the student portion of the form is submitted.
    2. Post-completion OPT: The OPT Request is considered complete after both the student and the departmental reviewer (academic advisor, ADAP, thesis advisor, etc.) portions of the form are submitted.

  7. What is the I-765?
    The Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is a US government form used to apply for permission to work in the US. Eligible students applying for OPT must submit the I-765 along with a new OPT I-20 and additional supporting documents to USCIS.

    The application can be submitted either online or by mail. Do not submit both.

    The form and additional information can be found on the USCIS website.

  8. How do I complete the I-765?
    1. Online I-765 Application: Refer to the Online I-765 Guide for tips for completing the online I-765.
    2. Paper I-765 Application: Refer to the ISSS step-by-step instructions for tips on preparing the paper I-765 and refer to I-765 instructions on the USCIS website.

  9. How long does it take for USCIS to approve an I-765 application?
    USCIS processing time varies, but the typical processing time is about 90-100 days. The USCIS processing time is the same for the paper and online I-765 applications. 

  10. What should I choose as my OPT start and end date?
    OPT start and end dates cannot be changed after submitting your I-765 OPT application. If you are unsure what dates to request, please contact your ISSS advisor.
    1. Pre-completion OPT: The start date should be the expected position start date, and the end date should be the expected position end date. Students who do not have a position yet or who have a position but the dates have not been determined, should estimate an expected start and end date.
      1. *Note: If applying for full-time pre-completion OPT, the requested dates cannot overlap with a fall or spring semester. Review Emory's academic calendar for semester start and end dates (referred to as End of Term/Graduation date).
    2. Post-completion OPT: The start date can be any day within the 60 days immediately following a student's program completion date. For example, if a student’s program end date is 5/09/2022, the start date can be any day between 5/10/2022-7/08/2022. Review Emory's academic calendar for your program completion date (referred to as End of Term/Graduation date).
      1. Unless a student has been approved for pre-completion OPT at the current degree level, the end date should be 1 year from the OPT start date. For example, if the start date is 7/08/2022, the end date would be 7/07/2023.
      2. F-1 students can be authorized for up to 1 year unless previously approved for pre-completion OPT. Part-time, pre-completion OPT is deducted from post-completion OPT at a half-time rate (i.e. 4 months of part-time, pre-completion OPT deducts 2 months from the 12 months of post-completion OPT).
      3. Still not sure?
        1. Students who are actively seeking employment may want to consider picking an earlier start date within the 60 day window with the assumption that they will have a position shortly after graduation.
        2. Students cannot accrue more than 90 days of unemployment while in a period of post-completion OPT. Therefore, students who are waiting until after graduation to begin their job search may want to select a later start date as it takes time to apply, interview, and receive a job offer.
        3. Students who are still not sure may want to consider selecting a middle start date, sometime around 30 days after the program completion date. Selecting a middle date gives the student some flexibility without accruing too many days of unemployment.

Online I-765

  1. Refer to the Online I-765 Guide for tips for submitting the online I-765 OPT application.

    Title Online I-765 Guide OPT

  2. Can I submit my I-765 OPT application online?
    Yes, you can submit your I-765 application online. Use the Online I-765 Guide to learn how submit the online I-765 application.
    1. Do not file both an online and paper application. USCIS rejects duplicate applications.
    2. Do not submit the online I-765 application without your new OPT I-20. USCIS denies applications submitted without new OPT I-20s, and application fees may not be refunded.

  3. What are the benefits of submitting the I-765 online?
    There are many benefits to submitting your application online including:
    1. You can submit your application using a phone, tablet, or computer.
    2. Common mistakes are avoided such as failing to respond to a form question or failing to sign the application.
    3. You can save your draft application and complete it at your own pace.
    4. You can pay the application fee easily and securely online.
    5. You receive immediate confirmation that USCIS received your application instead of waiting for it to be delivered by mail.

  4. What is a myUSCIS account?
    This is a personalized USCIS online account. From your myUSCIS account, you can:
    1. Submit the online I-765.
    2. Print your receipt notice immediately upon submitting your application.
    3. Check the case status and history of your application.
    4. Send and receive secure messages from USCIS.
    5. Upload additional documents not requested by USCIS.
    6. Respond to a USCIS request for evidence.
    7. Inquire about a typo or missing mail.

      Learn more about the benefits of a USCIS online account and how to create a USCIS online account.

  5. How do I get technical support with the myUSCIS account and the online I-765?
    Information for USCIS online filing support can be found here

  6. When do I submit the online I-765 OPT application?
    1. After you receive your new OPT I-20 from Emory ISSS
    2. Within 30 days: USCIS must receive your I-765 OPT application and new OPT I-20 within 30 days of the date your OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS.
      1. USCIS rejects or denies I-765 OPT applications received more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation date and does not refund application fees.
      2. If USCIS denies your OPT application, you may not be eligible to reapply.
      3. Not sure what date your OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS? Contact your ISSS advisor.
    3. No earlier than 90 days:
      1. Pre-completion OPT: Eligibility to apply begins 90 days before completing 1 full academic year or before the expected employment start date whichever is later.
      2. Post-completion OPT: Eligibility to apply begins 90 days prior to your program completion date.
    4. No later than 60 days – Eligibility to apply for post-completion OPT expires 60 days after your program completion date. USCIS rejects or denies applications received after a student’s 60-days grace period, and application fees may not be refunded.

  7. What if I submitted the online I-765 OPT application without a new OPT I-20?
    USCIS rejects or denies online I-765 OPT applications submitted without a new OPT I-20, and application fees may not be refunded. Contact your ISSS advisor immediately if you submitted an online I-765 OPT application without your new OPT I-20.

  8. What if I don't submit the I-765 OPT application to USCIS within the 30-day deadline?
    USCIS rejects or denies I-765 OPT applications submitted or received more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS.

    Contact your ISSS advisor immediately if you fail to submit your application on time; and, submit the "I-20 Update/Replacement Request" e-form in ISSS Link to obtain a new OPT I-20 with a new OPT recommendation if you are eligible.

    Eligibility to apply for post-completion OPT expires 60 days after your program completion date. If USCIS rejects or denies your application because it was received after your 60-day grace period, you will not be eligible for a new OPT recommendation to re-apply.

  9. How do I complete the online I-765? 
    Create a myUSCIS account and refer to the Online I-765 Guide for tips for completing the online I-765 OPT application.

  10. What documents do I submit with my online I-765 OPT application?
    Prepare digital files of all the required documents listed in the "Document Checklist" section of the ISSS webpage here and refer to the Online I-765 Guide for file format requirements.

    A digitial copy of your new, hand signed and dated OPT I-20 must be submitted with your I-765 OPT application.

    Note the following additional details about required documents: 
    1. OPT I-20:
      1. Hand sign and date your OPT I-20. Digital or electronic signatures are not permitted.
      2. Make a digital copy. The instructions page is not required.
      3. Ensure the program end date on page 1 is correct.
      4. Ensure the OPT recommendation on page 2 is correct (start and end dates are correct, pre-completion vs. post-completion, and full-time vs. part-time).
    2. Most recent I-94:
      1. Retrieve your most recent I-94 here.
      2. If your most recent entry to the US was through a land port of entry, you may have a paper I-94; make a copy of it to submit with your I-765 OPT application.
      3. Confirm that the information on your I-94 is correct.
      4. Contact your ISSS advisor if there is an error on your I-94.
    3. Most recently issued passport biographical ID page:
      1. Passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future at the time USCIS receives your I-765 OPT application. If necessary, renew your passport before submitting your application.
      2. Include any passport extension pages if applicable
    4. US-passport style photo:
      1. See US passport photo requirements here.
      2. Must be taken within 30 days of submitting your I-765 OPT application
      3. Should not have been used for a previous application or document such as a visa or passport
      4. US passport-style photos can be obtained at businesses near campus such as CVS, Walgreens, and FedEx.

  11. Can I sign my new OPT I-20 with a digital signature?
    No, digital student signatures are not permitted. This means you will print your new OPT I-20, hand sign and date it with an ink pen, and then create a digital copy of it to upload with your online I-765 application.

  12. I received a new passport since last entering the US. Which passport information should I provide in my online I-765?
    Enter the details of your most recently issued passport in your online I-765 application and upload a copy of that passport in the "Evidence" section of the application where it requests you to upload a copy of your EAD or a government-issued ID.

    Though not required, you may provide your expired passport details in the "Additional Information" section of the application and upload a copy of your expired passport as "Unsolicited Evidence" to your I-765 case in your myUSCIS account after you submit your online I-765 application.

  13. Do I have a previous EAD?
    You would have a previous EAD (employment authorization document) if you participated in OPT or STEM OPT in the past or if you submitted an I-765 application for another reason in the past.

    In the "Evidence" section of the online I-765 application, you will be prompted to upload a copy of your last EAD or if you were not previously issued an EAD, upload a copy of a government-issued identity document showing your picture, name, and date of birth. ISSS recommends you upload a copy of the biographical details ID page of your most recently issued passport.

  14. How do I get my previously issued CPT or OPT I-20s?
    Email your ISSS advisor to request copies of any previous Emory-issued CPT or OPT I-20s that you are missing.

    If you participated in CPT or OPT while attending an institution other than Emory and you do not have copies of those CPT and/or OPT I-20s, contact the international student office at the previous institution to request copies of those I-20s.

    If you are unable to obtain copies of any previously issued CPT or OPT I-20s, write a letter to USCIS that includes your full name, SEVIS ID(s), the name of the previous institution(s), your dates of attendance, your degree level and major, and the details of your CPT and/or OPT authorization(s) including the start and end dates, full-time or part-time, and if the authorization was for CPT, pre-completion OPT, post-completion OPT, and/or STEM OPT. Upload this letter in the "Evidence" section of the online I-765 where it asks for copies of previous CPT and OPT I-20s. Also provide the CPT and/or OPT authorization details in the "Additional Information" section.

  15. Do I need to include all my previously issued I-20s?
    You are required to submit copies of all previous I-20s with CPT and/or OPT authorizations issued by Emory and any other institutions you attended if applicable.

    It is recommended but not required that you also submit copies of all other previously issued I-20s. You may upload them as "Unsolicited Evidence" in your myUSCIS account after submitting your online I-765 application.

    If you wish to submit copies of all your previously issued I-20 from Emory or any other institution you attended but you do not have copies, you may email your Emory ISSS advisor and the international office at your previous institution(s) to request copies of the missing I-20s.

    If you are unable to obtain copies of any previously issued I-20s, write a letter to USCIS that includes your full name, SEVIS ID(s), the name of the previous institution(s), your dates of attendance, your degree level and major.  Upload this letter as "Unsolicited Evidence" in your myUSCIS account after submitting your online I-765 application.

  16. Do I need to upload a copy of my F-1 visa?
    No, the online I-765 application does not require you to upload a copy of your visa. If you wish, you may upload a copy of your visa as "Unsolicited Evidence" in your myUSCIS account after submitting your online I-765 application.

  17. Can I get a copy of the online I-765 application that I submitted?
    Yes, in the "Review and Submit" section of the online application, you can print a summary of all the information you provided in your application.

    You can also download a draft snapshot of your application; this is the I-765 form generated with the information you provided in the online application and a summary page of the files you uploaded in the online application. ISSS recommends you save a copy of your online I-765 application for your personal records.

  18. How do I pay the I-765 application fee?
    The last step of the online I-765 application is to pay the required fee. When you are ready to pay and submit your application, you will click the “Pay and Submit” button, and the form will redirect you to the secure government payment website, Pay.gov. 

    On Pay.gov you will provide your billing information and either your credit or debit card or US bank account information, and then submit your payment. Your online I-765 application is considered submitted after you paid your fee.

  19. Can I make changes to my online I-765 after I submit it?
    No, you cannot make changes to your online I-765 after you pay the fee and submit the application.

Paper I-765

  1. Refer to the ISSS Step by Step I-765 Instructions guide for tips for completing the paper I-765 OPT application.

  2. Can I mail a paper I-765 OPT application to USCIS instead of submitting it online?
    Yes, USCIS accepts mailed paper I-765 applications. Do not submit both a paper and an online application; USCIS rejects or denies duplicate applications.

    The USCIS processing time is the same for the paper and online I-765 applications. USCIS processing time varies, but the typical processing time is about 90-100 days.

  3. When do I submit the paper I-765 OPT application?
    1. After you receive your new OPT I-20 from Emory ISSS
    2. Within 30 days: USCIS must receive your I-765 OPT application and new OPT I-20 within 30 days of the date your OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS.
      1. USCIS rejects or denies I-765 OPT applications received more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation date and does not refund application fees.
      2. If USCIS denies your OPT application, you may not be eligible to reapply.
      3. Not sure what date your OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS? Contact your ISSS advisor.
    3. No earlier than 90 days:
      1. Pre-completion OPT: Eligibility to apply begins 90 days before completing 1 full academic year or before the expected employment start date whichever is later.
      2. Post-completion OPT: Eligibility to apply begins 90 days prior to your program completion date.
    4. No later than 60 days: Eligibility to apply for post-completion OPT expires 60 days after your program completion date. USCIS rejects or denies applications received after a student’s 60-days grace period, and application fees may not be refunded.

  4. What if I mailed my I-765 OPT application without a new OPT I-20?
    USCIS rejects or denies I-765 OPT applications submitted without copies of a new OPT I-20, and application fees may not be refunded.

    Contact your ISSS advisor immediately if you submitted your I-765 OPT application without a copy of your new OPT I-20.

  5. What if I don't submit the I-765 OPT application to USCIS within the 30-day deadline?
    USCIS rejects or denies I-765 OPT applications submitted or received more than 30 days after the OPT recommendation was entered in SEVIS.
    1. Contact your ISSS advisor immediately if you fail to submit your application on time; and,
    2. Submit the "I-20 Update/Replacement Request" e-form in ISSS Link to obtain a new OPT I-20 with a new OPT recommendation if you are eligible.

      Eligibility to apply for post-completion OPT expires 60 days after your program completion date. If USCIS rejects or denies your application because it was received after your 60-day grace period, you will not be eligible for a new OPT recommendation to re-apply.

  6. How do I complete the paper I-765?
    Refer to the ISSS Step by Step I-765 Instructions guide for tips on completing the paper I-765 OPT application.

  7. What documents do I submit with my paper I-765 OPT application?
    Prepare single-sided copies of all the required documents listed in the "Document Checklist" section of the ISSS webpage here. Copies may be grayscale or color. Do not staple documents together.

    A copy of your new, hand signed and dated OPT I-20 must be submitted with your I-765 OPT application.

    Note the following additional details about required documents: 
    1. I-765 form
      1. Include all original, single-sided pages of the form.
      2. Sign your name in blue ink in the "Applicant Signature" field. Digital or electronic signatures are not permitted.
      3. Ensure you selected the correct "Eligibility Category Code" - (c)(3)(A) for pre-completion OPT; and, (c)(3)(B) for post-completion OPT.
    2. OPT I-20:
      1. Hand sign and date your OPT I-20. Digital or electronic signatures are not permitted.
      2. Make a single-sided copy. The instructions page is not required.
      3. Ensure the program end date on page 1 is correct.
      4. Ensure the OPT recommendation on page 2 is correct (start and end dates are correct, pre-completion vs. post-completion, and full-time vs. part-time).
    3. Copy of most recent I-94:
      1. Retrieve your most recent I-94 here.
      2. If your most recent entry to the US was through a land port of entry, you may have a paper I-94; make a copy of it to include with your I-765 OPT application.
      3. Confirm that the information on your I-94 is correct.
      4. Contact your ISSS advisor if there is an error on your I-94.
    4. Copy of most recent visa:
      1. Not required by citizens of Canada or Bermuda
      2. The visa may be expired at the time of submitting your I-765 OPT application.
    5. Copy of most recently issued passport biographical ID page:
      1. Passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future at the time USCIS receives your I-765 OPT application. If necessary, renew your passport before submitting your application.
      2. Include any passport extension pages if applicable
    6. 2 US-passport style photos:
      1. See US passport photo requirements here
      2. Must be taken within 30 days of submitting your I-765 OPT application
      3. Should not have been used for a previous application or document such as a visa or passport
      4. Lightly write your full name and I-94 number on the back of each photo using pencil.
      5. Enclose photos in a small envelope and paperclip it to the frong of your I-765 OPT application.
      6. US passport-style photos can be obtained at businesses near campus such as CVS, Walgreens, and FedEx. 

  8. Can I sign my new OPT I-20 and I-765 form with a digital or electronic signature?
    No, digital or electronic student signatures are not permitted. This means you will print your new OPT I-20, hand sign and date it with an ink pen, and then make a single-sided copy to include with your I-765 application. 

  9. Do I need to include all I-20s that I have been issued or just the ones from Emory or the ones associated with my current SEVIS record?
    You are required to submit copies of all previous I-20s with CPT and/or OPT authorizations issued by Emory and any other institutions you attended if applicable.

    It is recommended, but not required, that you also submit copies of all other previously issued I-20s.

    If you are missing any previously issued I-20s from Emory, email your ISSS advisor to request copies of your missing Emory-issued I-20s.

    If you are missing previously issued I-20s from a school or university you attended prior to Emory, contact the international student office at the previous institution to request copies of those I-20s.

    If you are unable to obtain copies of any previously issued I-20s, write a letter to USCIS that includes your full name, SEVIS ID(s), the name of the previous institution(s), your dates of attendance, your degree level and major, and if applicable, details of any CPT and/or OPT authorization(s) including the start and end dates, full-time or part-time, and if the authorization was for CPT, pre-completion OPT, post-completion OPT, and/or STEM OPT. Submit this letter with your I-765 OPT application.

  10. What is the G-1145 and do I need to include it with my I-765 application?
    The G-1145 e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance form is optional. You may wish to include it with your I-765 OPT application to request that USCIS text and/or email you when they accept your I-765 application for processing.

  11. Should I save a copy of my completed I-765 OPT application and supporting documentation?
    Yes, ISSS recommends you save a copy of your complete I-765 application package including all supporting documents, photos, and fee payment for your personal records.

  12. How do I pay the required application fee for a paper I-765?
    The I-765 filing fee can be paid by personal check, cashier's check, money order or credit card. See the current I-765 filing fee amount here. Note: the Biometrics fee is not required.
    1. Check or money order:
      1. Enclose your check or money order in an envelope and paperclip it to the front of your I-765 OPT application before mailing it to USCIS.
      2. Make it payable to "US Department of Homeland Security".
      3. In the memo section, write "OPT I-765: (Your full name), (Your I-94 number)"
      4. Personal checks:
        1. Ensure sufficient funds are available in your account at least 2-3 weeks after mailing your application.
        2. Do not use a "starter check" that does not have your name and address printed on it.
        3. Do not cross out the address on your check if it is outdated. Leave the check as is.
        4. Sign and date your check using this format, MM/DD/YYYY.
      5. Credit card:
        1. To pay by credit card requires the Form G-1450
        2. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover are accepted
        3. USCIS will not make a second attempt to process a credit card if the payment request is declined and will reject or deny the I-765 OPT application.
        4. In the past there were some reports of issues with credit card payments that resulted in USCIS processing delays.

  13. What are my options for mailing my I-765 OPT application?
    You may mail your application via an express shipping service such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL, USPS Priority Mail and USPS Priority Express Mail. These services provide tracking numbers to confirm delivery.

    You may also choose USPS First-Class Mail which is less expensive than an express delivery service, but it does not include a tracking number. You may however purchase an add-on service called Certified Mail to confirm delivery.

    ISSS recommends using delivery confirmation and saving the confirmation with the copy of your I-765 OPT application packet for your personal records.

  14. Where do I mail my I-765 OPT application?
    Paper I-765 OPT applications are mailed to a USCIS lockbox from which they are routed to a USCIS service center. Determining which lockbox mailing address to use will depend on the shipping method (USPS versus express courier such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL).

    To find the mailing address for your OPT application:
    1. Visit the USCIS Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization webpage.
    2. Select the "Foreign Students" tab.
    3. Locate the Category Description and Filing Location for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) [includes (c)(3)(A), (c)(3)(B) and (c)(3)(C)].
    4. Determine the lockbox mailing address based on your preferred shipping method (USPS versus express courier).

  15. What should I use as a return address when I mail my I-765 OPT application?
    Use an address that will a valid and secure place to receive your mail up to at least 5 months from the date you submit your I-765 OPT application to USCIS. You may use your own mailing address, the address of a friend, or the Emory ISSS Office address below: 

Emory ISSS, MSC 1784 001 1AV
1784 N. Decatur Rd., Ste. 130
Atlanta, GA  30322

Pending OPT Approval

  1. How do I know if USCIS received and accepted my I-765 OPT application for processing?
    USCIS generates an I-797 receipt notice to confirm the receipt and acceptance of your application for processing. 

    I-797 receipt notice:
    1. The receipt notice contains your receipt number.
    2. Will be mailed to the mailing address provided in the I-765 OPT application.
    3. Anticipate delivery of the notice within 3-4 weeks of submitting your application
    4. A digital receipt notice is immediately generated and accessible in your myUSCIS account if you submitted your I-765 online. A hard-copy receipt notice will also be mailed to you.
    5. Confirm that your name and biographical details are correct on your receipt notice.
    6. ISSS will notify you when your receipt notice is delivered to the ISSS office if you used the ISSS office as your mailing address.
    7. If you mailed a paper I-765 to USCIS and your receipt number on your receipt notice begins with "IOE", you can create a myUSCIS account and connect the account to your I-765 OPT application by entering the receipt number. 

  2. What if there is an error or typo on an I-797 receipt notice?
    Notify your ISSS advisor and immediately request USCIS correct the error. Follow the instructions on the receipt notice for contacting the USCIS Contact Center, or send a secure message to USCIS through your myUSCIS account. 

  3. What if I do not receive a receipt notice?
    Contact your ISSS advisor if you do not receive your receipt notice within one month of submitting your application.

  4. How do I track the status of my pending I-765 OPT application?
    You can use the receipt number from your receipt notice to track the status of your application on the USCIS website, Case Status Online.

    If you filed the online I-765 application, you can also track the status of your application in your myUSCIS account.

  5. What if I move while my I-765 OPT application is pending?
    Report your new US address within 10 calendar days of your move by submitting the "OPT Employer Information" e-form in ISSS Link.

    If your mailing address will be different from the one you provided in your I-765 OPT application, contact your ISSS advisor to discuss updating your mailing address with USCIS through your myUSCIS account or by calling the USCIS Contact Center.

  6. My Georgia driver's license expires soon, but my I-765 OPT application is still pending. How can I extend my driver's license?
    Most students' driver's licenses issued by the state of Georgia expire on the end date listed on their I-20s. If you submitted an I-765 OPT application and have a receipt notice, you may be eligible for a 120-day extension of your Georgia driver's license if you apply within 30 days of the license expiration date. See the Georgia Department of Driver Services here more information (scroll to bottom of page).

  7. What if I change my mind about doing OPT and want to withdraw my pending I-765 OPT application?
    Contact your ISSS advisor to discuss withdrawing your application. Note, USCIS does not refund the I-765 application fee if the application is withdrawn.

  8. What if USCIS rejects or denies my I-765 OPT application?
    Contact your ISSS advisor immediately to discuss the rejection or denial and to determine your eligibility to submit another OPT application to USCIS.

    Eligibility for an OPT I-20 expires after 60 days of your program completion date. Also, USCIS must receive your I-765 OPT application no later than 60 days after your program completion date.

  9. Can I begin working unpaid while I wait for my OPT approval and EAD?
    No, ISSS advises you not to begin employment or any employment-related activities until you receive your EAD card and the approved OPT start date listed on the card has arrived.

  10. USCIS approved my I-765 OPT application. How long does it take to receive my EAD card?
    It may take a few weeks or so after your application is approved to receive your EAD card. After USCIS approves an application, the EAD card is produced and then mailed via USPS to the mailing address provided on your I-765 OPT application.

    If you listed the Emory ISSS office as your mailing address on your I-765 OPT applcation, your EAD card will be delivered to Emory's central mail receiving site. From there it will be sorted and delivered to the ISSS office. It may take a few days from the date USPS delivers your EAD to Emory and when your EAD is delivered to the ISSS office. ISSS will notify you as soon as your EAD card is received by our office.

    Note, Emory ISSS is not responsible for documents lost in the mail.

Travel and OPT

  1. Can I travel abroad when my OPT application is pending with USCIS?
    ISSS does not recommend traveling abroad (including Canada or Mexico) while the application is pending with USCIS. Although the regulations do not prohibit travel during this time, there are risks involved. Students who choose to leave the US while the OPT application is pending and plan to reenter the US after their I-20 program end date will need the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to return to the US. For students who use the ISSS address as their mailing address, ISSS may be able to express mail the EAD at the student’s expense; however, students who plan to return before the EAD is approved may not be admitted into the US as admission is at the discretion of Customs and Border Protection.

    For more information, visit the ICE travel website which cautions students about traveling while the OPT application is pending.

    NOTE: You must be physically present in the US at the time USCIS receives your OPT application. If you must travel abroad after USCIS receives the application and you accept the risks, ISSS recommends that you at least wait until you have received the receipt notice from USCIS. The receipt notice will arrive in the mail within a few weeks of USCIS receiving your application. 

  2. Can I travel abroad while on OPT?
    The regulations allow students to travel while in a period of OPT. Please note that additional documents are required for students participating in post-completion OPT. The requirements for students in a period of pre-completion OPT are the same as an enrolled student.

    Visit the ISSS International Travel Checklist for more information on travel for students participating in OPT.

  3. Do I still need a travel signature on my I-20 during my post-completion OPT period?
    Yes, you do need a valid travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 when you travel internationally during post-completion OPT. Travel signatures during post-competion OPT are valid for 6 months.

    Submit the "Travel Information Update" e-form in ISSS Link at least 2 weeks prior to your travel date to allow ISSS to review your immigration documents, provide any needed advising, and provide you with an updated I-20 with a valid travel signature if needed.

While on OPT and Beyond

  1. What is my non-immigrant status during my post-completion OPT?
    Your non-immigrant status continues to be F-1 during your approved period of post-completion OPT, and Emory ISSS continues to maintain your SEVIS record and provide you with F-1 immigration advising. You can continue to call, email, and schedule advising appointments with your ISSS advising through your OPT period. You can also continue to access your ISSS Link. 

  2. Can I "volunteer" for my company while I wait for my Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?
    Students cannot work unpaid as a “volunteer” while they wait for their EAD and/or wait for their OPT start date. They must have the EAD in hand before beginning any work, paid or unpaid. Students can begin working on or after the OPT start date printed on the EAD.  Remember, F-1 students are only permitted to seek employment that is directly related to their field of study.

  3. What is the SEVP Portal?
    The SEVP Portal is a tool that allows F-1 students on post-completion OPT to meet their legal reporting requirements. F-1 students participating in post-completion OPT may use the SEVP Portal to update SEVIS with their address, telephone number, and employer information.

    Once the OPT is approved, the student will receive an email from the portal with instructions on setting up a portal account. For more information on the SEVP Portal visit the Study in the States SEVP Portal website.

    Students may use the SEVP Portal to meet their reporting requirements or utilize the OPT Reporting e-forms in ISSS Link. Information provided through ISSS Link is entered into SEVIS by ISSS.

  4. What should I do once I have my Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?
    Students should login to ISSS Link and update their address and employer information. Even if they have not begun working, they should report their information. More details can be found on the OPT website under Reporting Requirements.

  5. What do I do if I do not find a job?
    Students cannot accrue more than 90 days of unemployment during their period of post-completion OPT. Students nearing the 90-day limit may want to consider requesting a transfer of their SEVIS record to another academic program or applying for a change of status. Students who are not interested or not able to change status or start another academic program should consider departing the US. Students who choose to depart the US should notify their ISSS advisor of their plans to depart. ISSS will then complete their SEVIS record, preventing further accrual of unemployment. 

    During the 12 months of post-completion OPT, students may work unpaid or as a volunteer to prevent the accrual of unemployment days. However, the training experience(s) need to total at least 20 hours per week and be directly related to the student’s major field of study.

  6. My driver’s license will expire when I graduate. How do I renew it?
    Students who have the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before their current Georgia driver’s license expires are able to request a renewal using the EAD. Students whose OPT is pending at the time that their Georgia license expires may be able to request a 120-day extension of their Georgia driver's license. To be eligible, students must apply for the renewal within 30 days of their license expiration date. Scroll down to the bottom of the Georgia DDS website.

  7. May I get an extension of my OPT?
    OPT can be extended if:

    1) The student is eligible for the STEM extension and has filed a timely application.
    2)The student is eligible for the cap-gap extension.

  8. What are my options after my OPT ends? 
    Upon completion of OPT, students have a 60-day grace period to do one of the following:

    1) Apply for a change of visa status.

    2) Start a new program of study, either at Emory or another institution. Students will need a new I-20 showing their new program start date before the end of the 60-day grace period. Students starting a program at another institution might be able to transfer their SEVIS record. Transferring from Emory >>

    3) Depart the US.

OPT for Thesis/Dissertation Students

  1. As a thesis/dissertation student, can I use post-completion OPT before I graduate? 

Yes, thesis/dissertation students can apply for post-completion OPT once they have completed all course requirements for their degree except for a thesis or dissertation. However, prior to applying for post-completion OPT, students should consider the pros and cons to participating in OPT before degree completion.

  1. What are the pros and cons to applying for post-completion OPT after completion of all coursework but prior to graduation? 
  •  Pros:
    •  Students can begin working in their field of study full-time anywhere in the US.
    •  Students are not required to maintain full-time enrollment.
  •  Cons:  
    •  An F-1 student’s on-campus work benefit ends as of their I-20 program end date as listed on page 1 of I-20. Students who apply for post-completion OPT will have their I-20s shortened to their new program completion date. As of this date, F-1 students are no longer permitted to work on-campus (including graduate research and teaching assistantships) until they have presented a valid EAD. Note: Students who work as graduate assistants in exchange for tuition and stipends may no longer receive these benefits once their on-campus work permission ends, and thus, should consider their options carefully.
    •  I-20s cannot be extended if students do not complete their degree within the one year of OPT. In order to complete the degree, students must travel and reenter with a new I-20. Note: If a student is otherwise eligible for the STEM OPT extension, they can apply for the extension even if they did not graduate within the one year of post-completion OPT.
    •  Students are subject to the 90-day unemployment rule. Students who accrue more than 90 days of unemployment during their one year of OPT are not considered to be maintaining status.
  1. What is considered my program completion date/ I-20 end date?
Thesis/dissertation students have to make their program completion date/I-20 end date one of the following dates:
  •  The End of Term/Graduation Date for the semester for which the degree will be granted as listed on the Office of the University Registrar's website.
  •  The student's defense date as provided by the student's advisor in the OPT Request e-form.
  •  The last day of full-time enrollment.  Students who choose to apply for post-completion OPT based on completion of all course requirements except for thesis/dissertation will have their I-20s shortened to the last day they were full-time enrolled. ISSS will use the End of Term/Graduation Date as listed on the Office of the University Registrar's website as the new I-20 end date. 

I-20 will be shortened to this new program completion date, and the student may request an OPT start date within 60 days of this new I-20 end date.

  1. What are my other options for working off-campus if I decide to not apply for post-completion OPT until I graduate?

If eligible, students may apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Students who are not eligible for CPT may want to consider applying for pre-completion OPT. However, students should be aware that pre-completion OPT requires a separate application to USCIS and any approved period of pre-completion OPT is deducted from the twelve months of post-completion OPT.

If you have any additional questions, please contact your ISSS advisor.  

 

OPT Reporting Requirements

  1. How do I report my employer information?

    You should report your employer information within 10 days by logging into ISSS Link and completing the “Add or Change OPT Employer” or “Update Current OPT Employer” e-form or by logging into the SEVP Portal and submitting your information directly to SEVP (see question 3).

    If you choose to report your information through ISSS Link, these e-forms can be found by clicking on the OPT Employer Information link under the F-1 Practical Training tab. ISSS will review the information you submitted in ISSS Link and update your SEVIS record accordingly.

  2. How do I report a change of address, email address, or phone number?

    You should report a change of address or contact information within 10 days of the change by logging in to ISSS Link and filling out the “Update Current OPT Employer or US Residential Address” e-form or by logging into the SEVP Portal and submitting your information directly to SEVP (see question 3). If you choose to report your information through ISSS Link, this e-form can be found by clicking on the OPT Employer Information link under the F-1 Practical Training tab. ISSS will review the information you submitted in ISSS Link and update your SEVIS record accordingly.

  3. Can I report my employment information through the SEVP Portal?

    The US government hosts an online portal for students on post-completion and STEM OPT to submit updates directly to them. You may choose to use this portal to report your employment information. If you experience issues with the SEVP Portal, visit their help page.

    We still encourage you to submit employment, address, and contact information updates using the OPT Employer Information e-forms in.

  4. What employment information do I have to report?

    You are required to report the following: employer name, start date of employment, employer address, if the employment is full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time* (20 or less hours per week), and how the employment is related to your course work.

    You may also provide your job title, employer EIN, supervisor name and contact information (telephone number and email), and current employment end date (if applicable).

    *For post-completion OPT, a student can work for multiple employers/organizations, as long as each position is directly related to their major field of study and cumulatively add up to at least 20 hours per week.
  5. When reporting my employment in ISSS Link or the SEVP Portal, I am asked to explain the direct relationship between my employment and my major area of study. How do I explain this direct relationship?

    Students are responsible for providing a description of how their job relates to their major area of study. The written explanation is recorded in SEVIS and should include the nexus between the duties and the degree. Examples are included below:

    - Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering: I work full time as an Electrical Engineer at ABC Corp., a government contractor. In my job, I analyze client requirements for electrical systems and provide them with cost estimates of such systems. My work requires understanding of electrical circuit theory, which I studied in-depth at the University of ABC.

    - Bachelor's degree in Business: I work full time as a Loan Officer at a mortgage company, Happy Homes, where I meet with clients and evaluate, authorize and recommend approval of loan applications. On a daily basis, I use the knowledge I gained in my credit analysis, sales and marketing classes that I took as part of my major program of study.

    - Master's degree in Music: I am working at a hospital playing the harp in patient rooms. I also conduct hands-on harp beginner workshops for long-term patients. On average, I work at the hospital 35 hours a week. My duties directly utilize the skills and knowledge I acquired from my coursework and degree in music therapy.

    - PhD in Computer Science: I am employed as a Computer and Information Research Scientist at ABC Research Institute. I work as part of a team of scientists and engineers that designs experiments to test the operation of various software systems. My work builds on research in complex algorithms and machine learning, which I studied as part of my dissertation.

    - Master's degree in Kinesiology: I am working 25 hours a week in a health food store as a consultant for Self-Made Inc., designing and teaching exercise classes that are incorporated into a customer's overall nutrition and exercise plan. My designs and customer instruction draw upon my studies and classwork in exercise therapy and physical reconditioning.

     

  6. How many days of unemployment am I allowed?

    You are allowed no more than an aggregate of 90 days of unemployment time while on post-completion OPT.

  7. What types of employment are allowed while on the standard post-completion OPT?

    You may work in more than one position at a time as long as each employment is directly related to your program of study and cumulatively add up to at least 20 hours per week. The following activities constitute employment:

    - Regular paid employment
    - Payment by short-term multiple employers: students such as musicians and performing artists may work for multiple short-term employers (gigs).
    - Work for hire: commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship.
    - Self-employed business owner: you may start a business and be self-employed. You should be able to prove that you have a proper business license(s).
    - Employment through an agency
    Volunteers or unpaid interns: you may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern so long as it does not violate any labor laws. The US Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division determines labor laws.

  8. What documents should I have to prove that I am or have been employed?

    -Copies of job offer letters and agreements/contracts with all OPT employers including start and end dates, if applicable.
    - Copies of job descriptions including job title, duties, location, pay rate, and proposed number of  hours to be worked per week.
    - If working for an agency or consulting firm, evidence of the projects you worked on.
    - List of all gigs, including dates and duration.
    - Pay vouchers or pay stubs for all periods of employment
    - Copies of W-2 tax forms

    If working in an unpaid position:
    - Copies of company time and attendance records that document your daily tasks.
    - Written verification that your position does not violate any local, state, or federal labor laws from an HR representative at your organization.
    - A letter detailing the terms of the position such as: your name, name and address of hiring organization, position title, number of hours per week, start and end date, supervisor name and contact information, and number of hours worked per week. Note: This letter does not need to be submitted to ISSS but should be kept for your records.

  9. My Emory NetID is inactive. How can I access ISSS Link?

    You can access ISSS Link using Limited Services. For detailed instructions on how to obtain Limited Services Access, click here.

  10. What are the consequences of not reporting my employment information or exceeding the maximum days of unemployment?

    -OPT students are required to report OPT employer information in SEVIS, and without this information in SEVIS, OPT students could be viewed as having failed to obtain employment and potentially considered to be out of status for exceeding the permissible periods of unemployment.

    -If your SEVIS record is not updated, there can be short and long-term complications including setting the SEVIS record status to “terminated,” initiating EAD revocation proceedings, and negatively affecting future immigration benefits filed with USCIS.