Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment authorization which allows F-1 students to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience. You may be entitled to up to 12 months of optional practical training per educational level. If a student begins a new academic program at a higher level, the student is eligible for another 12 months of OPT. There is a filing fee of $410 to receive authorization for OPT.
Please note that Optional Practical Training requires authorization from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which typically takes 3-6 months to obtain. We recommend that you apply no less than 90 days prior to graduation.
Post-completion OPT December Graduates
Early Application (recommended): Mid- September (actual date will be no sooner than 90 days before your program end date)
Last day to submit application: Mid- February (actual date will be 60 days after your program end date)
Early Application (recommended): First week of February (actual date will be no sooner than 90 days before your program end date)
Last day to submit application: First week of July (actual date will be 60 days after your program end date)
Eligibility and Information
You can learn more by reviewing the USCIS official OPT Policy Guidance Document.
OPT Application Process Checklist [to begin, see the "Apply Now" button below]For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
- Make an appointment with your DSO (undergraduate students only) to complete a graduating senior exit interview and discuss OPT eligibility and process.
- Complete the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The form I-765 and instructions are available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Print the latest version here.
- We recommend using this power point presentation created by University of California Berkeley as a guiding document when completing the I-765.
- Gather all immigration documents and other supporting materials to submit with the application for employment authorization, including the following:
- Completed I-765 application
- Form I-94: provide your most recent I-94 form. You can print it out at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search
- Photocopies of the following passport pages:
- Photo page
- F-1 visa page
- Renewal page (if original has expired)
- Pages showing amendments such as name changes, corrections, etc. (if applicable)
- Photocopy of I-20 printed with the OPT endorsement (signed) You will keep the original.
- Photocopies of all I-20 forms that have been issued.
- Photocopies of any previous employment authorization documents (EAD)-if applicable.
- G-1145 form, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. You can find and print this form here.
- Two identical 2x2 color passport photographs taken within 30 days. These can usually be taken at a local store, such as Walgreens. For details, please see: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/photos.html
- Pay I-765 fee (check or Money Order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). The current fee is listed on the USCIS website (see link above).
- Schedule a meeting with your DSO to review your application and get an updated I-20 showing the OPT endorsement which you will submit with the application.
- Mail the application and supporting documents with the USCIS Service Center (address listed below) at the cost of the student.
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For Express mail and courier deliveries:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Ready to start your OPT application?
The application on this site will further explain this and additional information, guide you in preparing the USCIS forms, and allow you to submit a copy of everything for your DSO to review before you mail in the official documents to USCIS.
If you prefer to learn more before starting an application, please make an appointment with your DSO.