Services for International Students and Scholars

Post-Completion OPT

Eligibility

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit available to those in valid F-1 student status. It is 12 months of work authorization granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to F-1 students for the purpose of gaining practical experience directly related to their program of study. The Office of Global Services (OGS) first recommends OPT and the student then applies to USCIS for work authorization, which is authorized in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). Post OPT takes place after the program completion date (the end of the program of study, not necessarily the date of graduation).

Students can apply for 12 months of Post OPT upon completion of each higher degree level. Only one Post OPT application is allowed per academic degree level (i.e. Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD).

You may apply for Post-Completion OPT only if all of the following criteria have been met:

  • You have maintained valid F-1 student status
  • You have studied full-time for at least one academic year
  • You have completed fewer than 365 days of full-time Curricular Practical Training at the degree level for which you are applying for OPT
  • You have completed all coursework but are in final stages of thesis/dissertation
  • You have not already departed the U.S. after the program completion date

Please note that if you depart the U.S. before your OPT application has been filed, received and receipted by USCIS, you become ineligible to apply for Post-OPT if your program has ended.

Special Consideration for Ph.D students (Pre-OPT vs. Post-OPT)

If a Ph.D student has completed all his/her coursework but is in final stages of thesis/dissertation, immigration regulations allow the student to apply for either Pre-completion OPT or Post-completion OPT while completing his/her thesis/dissertation.

In this case, the PhD student and his/her college need to determine the end date of program completion, and the student’s I-20 will reflect it as the completion date of his/her program.

Please note that if you choose to apply for Post-Completion OPT while completing thesis/dissertation,

  • you must fulfill the reporting requirements of Post-OPT
  • days you do not have a job counts toward 90 days of unemployment time
  • you cannot request program extension even if your thesis/dissertation is not completed after Post-OPT is expired

Type of Employment

It is the responsibility of the student to determine if the accepted employment is related to his/her program of study.

The following criteria must be met when you engage in work during Post-Completion OPT:

  • You must work a minimum of 20 hours per week
  • All work must be directly related to your program of study

When considering work opportunities, the following employment types are permissible for OPT:

  • Paid or unpaid employment
  • Multiple employers: you may work for multiple employers while on Post OPT. All work obtained must be directly related to your program of study.
  • Work for hire: This is often referred to as 1099 employment. You can contract yourself out to a company. This is similar to working as a freelancer.
  • Self-employed/business owner: You may start their own business. Talk to a lawyer in order to find out what is needed to start a company.
  • Employment through an agency or consulting firm: You may work for a placement agency or consulting firm. This experience will usually involve temporary or contract work.

Note: Guidelines for STEM employers differ; please see our STEM OPT section for more details

Travel While on OPT

Students on Post OPT can travel abroad. In order to re-enter the United States, the following documents are required:

  • A passport that is valid for 6 months from the date of your return to the United States
  • A valid F-1 student visa stamp
  • A valid I-20 with OPT recommendation and a valid travel signature on page 2*

*Travel signatures are valid for 6 months while you are on OPT

  • A valid EAD card
  • Proof of employment (an offer letter can be used)

 

Given the information above, travel before an EAD has been approved and received is not advisable. Please note that if you depart the U.S. before your OPT application has been filed, received and receipted by USCIS, you become ineligible to apply for Post-OPT if your program has ended.

When to apply

You may apply to USCIS for Post-Completion OPT work authorization no earlier than 90 days prior to your program completion date. Post-Completion OPT applications cannot be submitted to USCIS later than 60 days after the program completion date (i.e. during the 60 day grace period). Once your program has ended, plan to submit your documents by the middle of your grace period to allow enough time for your application to be successfully received.

OPT APPLICATION TIMELINE

Important Reminder about Completion Date

The program end date on your I-20 is an estimated program end date, which may be different from your actual program end date. You must apply for OPT based on your last registered term. For immigration purposes, program completion date corresponds with the last term of enrollment, not necessarily the date of the graduation ceremony or degree conferral date.

For example, if you finish all of your courses in May, but your degree conferral is in August, your I-20 end date will be a May date if you have no registration over the summer.

Choosing a completion date for PhD students

Students in the Ph.D program may choose the date of completion based on any of the following dates:

  • Dissertation defense date, or
  • Dissertation/correction submission date, or
  • End of last registered term

How to choose OPT Start Dates

If you have not used any Pre-OPT time, you can request up to 12 months of Post-Completion OPT.  You must request a start date within the 60 day grace period of your program. You select your own start and end date for OPT (even if you do not yet have a job offer!).

Here are some general suggestions to help you make the best decision for your situation.

-If you have a job offer and your job starts during your 60 day grace period, use the job start date (or earlier) as your requested start of OPT

-If you have a job offer and it starts after 60 day grace period, use the latest date possible (59th day of grace period) for your OPT start date

 

If you choose an earlier OPT start date:

PRO – Your employer will be impressed that you can start your new job so quickly.

CON – If you don’t find a job quickly, you may risk being unemployed for 90 days and would need to leave the U.S.

 

If you choose a later OPT start date:

PRO – You have less of a chance to be unemployed for 90 days and be required to leave the U.S.

CON – A job offer could be rescinded if your employment start  date is uncertain or too far in the future.

 

If you choose to send your OPT application to USCIS close to your program end date or during your grace period in order to postpone your OPT start date as late as possible:

PRO – You will have extra time to find a job.

CON – OPT start date will be uncertain – OPT start date will be the date of approval, not your requested start date.

CON – Job offer may be rescinded because of long wait time.

CON – You may not receive all 12 months of OPT (OPT end date must be within 14 months of program end date.)

 

REMINDERIf there is a gap between your completion date & OPT start date, you have no work authorization during the gap!

How to apply

Step 1: Log in to OGS Post-Completion OPT Central

Step 2: Complete and pass the OPT Quiz through OPT Central

Step 3: Submit Post-OPT Recommendation Request through OPT Central

You must upload the following documents on the e-form:

Step 4: Send the documents listed below to USCIS:

  • Original I-765 – please refer to the tab at the end of this section
  • Original G-1145
  • Copy of new I-20 with OPT recommendation on page 2
  • Copies of all previous I-20s for the current degree level
  • Copy of passport identity page — include all correction and extension pages
  • Copy of most current F-1 student visa stamp or change of status approval notice
  • Copy of I-94
  • Copy of previous EAD (front and back) – if applicable
  • $410 check, money order or bank check made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Two passport photos with white background (lightly write your name and SEVIS ID with a pencil the on back of each photo; passport photo MUST be less than 30 days old and glasses should not be worn in photo)
  • Copy of your Northeastern transcript (optional)

Where to mail your documents

Once you have your documents and I-20 for Post-completion OPT, and you have copied all documentation and assembled the packet, you must send it to one of the following addresses depending on where you live (the address you put on Form I-765). It is recommended that you mail your OPT packet through certified mail which includes a tracking number and guaranteed delivery date.
If your mailing address on I-765 is in: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands or West Virginia

You will be sending your application to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For courier service deliveries (non-USPS):
USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121
Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

 

 

If your mailing address on I-765 is in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, or Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

You will be sending your application to the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
USCIS
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For courier service deliveries (non-USPS):
USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

eShipGlobal Mailing Option

eShipGlobal offers a shipping service for international students sending their OPT application to USCIS. eShipGlobal allows students to send OPT applcations to USCIS offices. Students can choose their carrier (UPS, FedEx, or USPS), what type of delivery (next day, 2-day, etc.) and ship at discounted rates.

This service is not a Northeastern service. All inquiries should be directed to eShipGlobal directly.

Northeastern does not ship OPT applications to USCIS for students. 

For More Information on how to use this service please see the instructions linked below:

eShipGlobal Instructions

Processing Time

The OGS requires 10 business days to process a request for Post OPT recommendation. USCIS generally requires around 100 days to process an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.

What happens after I submit my documents to USCIS?

  • You should receive a receipt notice from USCIS
  • Once your OPT is approved, expect to first receive an approval notice and then an EAD card
  • You may not work until you receive your EAD card and you may only work within the dates specified on the EAD (note: the EAD card, not your approval notice, is your work authorization documentation)

Important reminders and most common application mistakes

  • USCIS must receive the OPT application within 30 days of the OPT recommendation by the OGS; if the application is not received by USCIS within 30 days after the issuance of OPT I-20, the application will be denied.  THIS IS THE MOST COMMON REASON FOR OPT DENIAL!
  • Do not mail in your application so that USCIS receives it more than 90 days before your program end date or more than 60 days after the program end date. Applications received outside of these times will be denied.
  • If your entire application is returned to you (in plastic), consult with an OGS Advisor before resubmitting the application; your application may not be considered “received” and you may need a new I-20 with OPT recommendation
  • Do not submit OPT application to USCIS prior to obtaining I-20 with OPT recommendation
  • Do not wait for a job offer in order to start the OPT application process
  • Make sure that the address on your OPT application is valid for receiving mail at all times during OPT processing

Suggestions for Completing Form I-765 for Post-Completion OPT

The numbers below correspond to the numbered items on Form I-765. This form may be downloaded from uscis.gov.  Please refer to USCIS I-765 Instructions.  Below are some general guidelines for completing Form I-765 for Post-Completion OPT.  Please read the instructions for each item and write the information on the form, printing clearly and legibly or you may type the form online and print it.

Part 1. Reason for Applying

Field 1: I am applying for… – Unless you are applying for a replace of a lost EAD card, you should indicate that you are applying for “Initial permission to accept employment.”

Part 2. Information About You

Field 1: Your Name – Print clearly or type your family name in capital letters, followed by the first or given and middle name(s) if any.  Write your name as it appears in your passport.

Fields 2-4: Other Names Used – Fill this out only if you have used other names on official documents or if you have a maiden name (name used prior to marriage, usually applies to women who have married).

Fields 5-6: Mailing Address – The address you enter here should be the address to which correspondence can be sent for the next 3-4 months during the OPT application period. If you are providing an address where you do no reside, please provide the name of the person who resides at that address in Field 5.a. In Care of Name.

Address errors (i.e. undeliverable address, moving before OPT is approved, etc.) are a common cause for delay of or failure to receive the OPT EAD.

Field 7: Physical Address – If different from mailing address, the address where you reside in the U.S.

Field 8: Alien Registration Number – If you have an A-Number, enter it here.

Field 9: USCIS Online Account Number – If you have created an online account with USCIS, enter your account number here.

Field 10: Gender – Check the appropriate box.

Field 11: Marital Status – Check the appropriate box.

Field 12: Previously filed I-765? – Check no if you have never applied to the USCIS for F-1 OPT or other work authorization.  If you have previously applied, check yes.

Field 13: Has the Social Security Administration (SSA) ever officially issued a Social Secuirty card to you? – Check the appropriate box.

  • If yes, skip to Item 13b.
  • If no, skip to Item 14.

Field 14: Do you want the SSA to issue you a Social Security card? – Check the appropriate box. If you check no, skip to Item 18.a. You will not receive a Social Security card.

Field 15: Consent for Disclosure – Only answer Item 15 if you checked yes in Item 14. Complete Fields 16-17.

Field 18: Your Country or Countries of Citizenship or Nationality – List all countries where you are currently a citizen or national. The country of citizenship should match what appears on the applicant’s I-20.

Field 19: Place of Birth – Provide city, state, and country of applicant’s birth.

Field 20: Date of Birth – Enter the numerical date of birth as month/day/year (4 digits). For example, June 29, 1988 should be entered as 06/29/1988.

Field 21: Information About Your Last Arrival in the U.S.  – Enter the 11-digit I-94 number that is found on the electronic I-94. It is called “Admission (I-94) Record Number.”

Field 22: Date of Your Last Arrival Into the U.S. – Enter the numerical date of latest entry as month/day/year (4 digits).

Field 23: Place of your Last Arrival Into the U.S. – Enter the place of last entry. The place of entry is often written in three letter abbreviations, such as BOS for Boston and SFR for San Francisco.

Field 24: Immigration Status at Your Last Arrival – If F-1 appears on your I-94, enter student.  If you entered in another status and changed your non-immigrant status in the U.S. and have not travelled outside of the U.S. since receiving your change of status, please indicate the status you held upon initial entry into the U.S.

Field 25: Current Immigration Status – Enter student.

Field 26: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Number – Enter the 10-digit SEVIS ID starting with N that is found on the top left of your I-20.

Field 27: Eligibility Category – Enter the appropriate code for the work authorization category you are requesting.

  • Pre-OPT is (c) (3) (A)
  • Post-OPT is (c) (3) (B)
  • STEM OPT is (c) (3) (C)

Fields 28-31: Eligibility category specific questions. Skip to Part 3.

Part 3. Applicant’s Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature

Fields 1-2: Applicant’s Statement – Check Item 1.a. unless an interpreter translated the form for you or another person prepared the form on your behalf. You should not check Item 1.b. nor Item 2 if you are filing on your own without the help of an interpreter or another person.

Fields 3-5: Applicant’s Contact Information – Provide requested contact information.

Field 6: Select this box if you are a Salvadoran or Guatemalan national eligible for benefits under the AVC settlement agreement  – Check box if applicable.

Field 7: Applicant’s Signature – Acknowledge Applicant’s Declaration and Certification by providing your signature and date.

Parts 4-5 – These sections should only be completed if you have an interpreter translate the form for you or another person complete the form on your behalf. You should not complete this section if you are filing on your own without the help of an interpreter or another person.

Part 6. Additional Information – Use this extra space to provide any additional information required on the application.

Reporting Requirements

The following must be reported within 10 days of any changes. Updates can be submitted electronically via the SEVP Portal or the OPT Central:

  • Address Updates
  • Employment Updates (to be submitted only after OPT EAD is received)
    • Name of company
    • Address of company – This is the address from where you are conducting your work
    • Start and end dates with company
    • Description of how work is related to your course of study/major
    • Unemployment time

It is student’s responsibility to provide employment information to OGS or to SEVIS via the SEVP Portal. If no employment is provided within the first 90 days on the EAD card, the student’s SEVIS record may be terminated automatically.

Additional Information that must be reported to OGS

  •  A decision to discontinue OPT and depart the U.S.—Submit the Request to Complete OPT & SEVIS Record along with a copy of a flight itinerary indicating you have/will depart the U.S.
  • Change of status to a status other than F-1
  • A decision to begin a new program of study at Northeastern or transfer to another school in the US

The 90 Day Unemployment Rule

During the authorized Post-OPT dates on your EAD card, you are allowed to be unemployed for up to 90 days.  This 90 days is cumulative. If you exceed 90 days of unemployment, then you are considered out of status; there is no additional grace period after these 90 days.  If employment is not updated to OGS within 90 days of the start date on the EAD card, then your SEVIS record may be auto-terminated.  It is your responsibility to keep a personal record of all OPT activity.

Invalidating Your OPT

 Your Post OPT will be invalidated if you:

  • Start a new program of study
  • Transfer out to a new college or university
  • Change your status
  • Enter the U.S. using any visa status other than an F-1
  • Violate your immigration status

Studying while on OPT

Studying on post-completion OPT is allowed with certain restrictions.

The studying must meet all following requirements:

  • Is part-time
  • Does not require degree enrollment (even if it’s part-time or at the same degree level at which OPT is granted)
  • Credits taken will not count towards a new degree
  • Courses taken are not a higher degree level than the degree level at which the student is on OPT

As of March 23, 2018, the SEVP Portal will be an available tool for F-1 students on Post-Completion and STEM OPT to report their contact information as well as their employer information directly to SEVIS. Students will be able to see their information in the portal as it is reported in SEVIS and will be able to update it as needed. Students will be able to make changes to their address, telephone number, and employer information*.

*Students on STEM OPT will not be able to update their employer or their employment start date because they have to submit Form I-983 with this information.

For more information about the SEVP Portal please visit:
https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevp-portal-help

SEVP Portal FAQ

Will I still be able to submit an Employer Update E-form using the OGS Post-OPT Central?

Yes, however, please keep in mind that it can take OGS up to 21 days to process this change. Any changes that you make in the SEVP portal are instant.

What if I never receive the SEVP Portal Account Creation Email?

Please keep in mind that you will only receive this email after you have been approved for OPT. Students with pending OPT will not be getting this email. If you have been approved and have still not received this email, please be sure to check your junk or spam folder. If it is not in your junk or spam folder than please fill out an OPT Issue Reporting request in OPT Central and OGS will resend the email to you.

What if I forget my password or get locked out of my account?

If you forget your password – please visit OGS OPT Central and file an OPT Issue Reporting request. OGS will be able to send you a password reset link.

What will happen if I don't report my employment for over 90 days?

If you exceed 90 days of unemployment in the system – your SEVIS record could be auto-terminated. Please make sure that you report your employment  or any changes in employment within 10 business days.

Can I request an updated I-20 using the SEVP Portal once I’ve updated my information?

No. Requests for updated I-20’s while on OPT must all be made via OPT Central.

Application

My application was rejected and returned to me because of a missing signature on I-765 or an issue with check/money order. What do I do?

Do NOT mail the application yet. Please complete the OPT Issue Reporting Form in OPT Central. You should also contact OGS and make an appointment with an OGS advisor. You will most likely need a new OPT recommendation and will need to submit a new OPT application to USCIS.

You cannot resubmit your application if there is any chance your I-20 with OPT recommendation will be more than 30 days old when it is received by USCIS; this would result in a denial.

I received an Request For Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. What do I do?

You are required to respond to RFE by the deadline specified on the letter. If you can prepare the document(s) they ask for, you may respond on your own. If you have any questions, you may make an appointment with an OGS advisor. Please also make sure that you submit your RFE to the OPT Issue Reporting eform at OPT Central.

How do I change my mailing address while my OPT application is pending with USCIS?

While your application is still pending with USCIS, follow the instructions below:

https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do

If you are moving and not just updating the address to which your EAD card should be mailed, then you must also update OGS with your new address using the Address Update Form

How do I withdraw my OPT application?

If your application is still pending with USCIS, and you decide not to pursue OPT, you may withdraw your application. In this case, you will need to mail a letter to request withdrawal of your application to the USCIS address that’s listed on your receipt notice, and a copy of your receipt notice.

The letter should include the following elements:

  • Note “Re: I-765 Withdrawal” on the letter
  • Include biographical information to identify the student, including name, date of birth, and SEVIS ID number
  • Reference the receipt number for the I-765 application (from the Form I-797 receipt notice); a copy of the receipt notice can also be helpful
  • Specific request that the Form I-765 application for Optional Practical Training be withdrawn
  • Student’s signature

Once your application is withdrawn, you should receive the withdrawal acknowledgement letter from USCIS. If you do not receive anything within 1 month, please contact OGS.

Note: If you withdraw your OPT application after your program has ended, your 60 day grace period will go into effect as of the end date of your I-20.  If 60 days has passed since the end of your program, your record will auto-complete when your OPT is withdrawn.

Can I request for my application to be expedited by USCIS?

Although USCIS generally does not accept expedite processing, you may try including a job offer letter and a cover letter explaining your job is expected to start on a certain day, and send them along with required documents for Post-OPT application.

If you already have submitted the application to USCIS, you may call the USCIS customer service and ask for how to request the expedite processing.

Disclaimer: There is no guarantee that USCIS will honor your request. It is solely student’s responsibility to prepare the documents and submit the expedite request. We recommend that you talk to your employer about changing your employment start date to a later date.

My OPT was denied. What can I do?

If your OPT is denied, please wait to receive your denial notice in the mail.  Once you receive it, make an appointment to meet with an OGS Advisor to discuss your situation.

My OPT application has been pending more than 110 days. What can I do?

Please visit the DHS website to review that do if your application has been pending more than 110 days: https://www.dhs.gov/case-assistance

If you have submitted a request to USCIS to review your case and your case has been pending over 110 days, please submit the “OPT Issue Reporting” e-form in OPT Central.  In this e-form, you will be asked what day you submitted your request to USCIS.

EAD

I did not get my EAD card in the mail after receiving the approval notice. What do I do?

Find your tracking number of your mail from USCIS case status, contact USPS to see if they can locate your EAD card if it already says “delivered” status.

If your card is not received within 2-3 weeks of receiving your approval notice or seeing that your case status shows that your card was “delivered”, then you can make an e-request through USCIS.  Please note that this e-request may result in a response from USCIS or it may result in the production of an EAD card; a new card is estimated to take approximately 120 days.

For questions about this e-request through USCIS, please contact USCIS Customer Service at:

1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833

If it is determined that your EAD is lost in the mail and you do not want to wait for a response from USCIS, you will have to apply for a replacement of EAD by submitting the following documents to the lockbox, as you did for your initial application. Processing times will be the same as processing times for the initial OPT approval.

  • Letter explaining what happened to previously issued card (include police report if applicable)
  • I-765 (check the box that indicates that you are applying for a “Replacement” card)
  • G-1145
  • $410 check, money order or bank check made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Copies of previous I-20s
  • Copy of F-1 visa
  • Copy of passport
  • Passport Photos
  • Approval Notice of OPT/STEM

What happens if my EAD card has incorrect information on it?

If your EAD card was processed by the Potomac Service Center (PSC):

If your Form I-765 was approved by the PSC and your EAD contains incorrect information due to USCIS error, you must return the original card along with a detailed explanation of the error and supporting documentation to the PSC at:

Potomac Service Center
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
2200 Potomac Center Drive, Stop 2425
Arlington, VA 20598-2425

In these cases, you do not need to submit a new Form I-765 and filing fee. The PSC will issue a corrected EAD within 30 days of receiving your EAD that contains incorrect information due to USCIS error.

If you return your PSC-approved EAD card and the PSC determines that your card contains incorrect information that is not due to USCIS error, the PSC will return the EAD card to you. In this case, you will have to follow the process detailed in the Replacement EAD section of the Employment Authorization Document page on order to have your card corrected.

If you do not find the information you need through our online services and need further assistance, you may contact our National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired).

If your EAD card was processed a Service Center other than Potomac: 

Call the USCIS customer service at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 and ask for instructions.

https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/contact-us/national-customer-service-center

What do I do if I lose my EAD card?

If your card was lost or stolen while you are on OPT, we advise that you apply for a replacement card.  You will have to apply for a replacement of EAD by submitting the following documents to the lockbox, as you did for your initial application:

  • Letter explaining what happened to previously issued card (include police report if applicable)
  • I-765 (check the box that indicates that you are applying for a “Replacement” card)
  • G-1145
  • $410 check, money order or bank check made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Copies of previous I-20s
  • Copy of F-1 visa
  • Copy of passport
  • Passport Photos
  • Approval Notice of OPT/STEM
  • Copy of EAD (if available)

My OPT duration is less than 12 months. Is this a mistake?

Per regulations, your OPT end date must be within 14 months of your program end date. Depending on the OPT application approval date, your OPT duration may not be 12 months.

Employment on Post-OPT

What do I do if I cannot find a job?

If you cannot find a job within 90 days of the start date of your EAD card, then you have surpassed your allotted time of unemployment and it is recommended that you depart the US.

Can I work for multiple employers

Yes, you can work for more than one employer, as long as all employment is related to the major for which you obtained OPT.

Is there a limit to how many hours per week I can work on OPT?

You must work a minimum of 20 hours per week while on OPT, but there is not a limit as to how many hours per week you can work.

I don’t have a Social Security Number. When can I apply for one?

You may apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) as of the start date on your EAD – See Social Security Number (SSN) Instructions.

General

What documents do I need to renew my F-1 visa during OPT?

If you travel during your OPT period and your F-1 visa has expired, you will need to obtain a new F-1 visa.  While on OPT, you are still considered to be an F-1 student.  Expect to show similar documents as the first time you applied for your visa (check with your local US embassy for requirements).  Additionally, you should have your valid OPT EAD card, I-20 with OPT recommendation on page 2 and travel signature within 6 months, passport valid within 6 months, and a job offer or proof of employment.

Can I travel while on OPT?

Students on Post OPT can travel abroad. In order to re-enter the United States, the following documents are required:

  • A passport that is valid for 6 months from the date of your return to the United States
  • A valid F-1 student visa stamp
  • A valid I-20 with OPT recommendation and a valid travel signature on page 2*

*Travel signatures are valid for 6 months while you are on OPT

  • A valid EAD card
  • Proof of employment (an offer letter can be used)

 

Given the information above, travel before an EAD has been approved and received is not advisable. Please note that if you depart the U.S. before your OPT application has been filed, received and receipted by USCIS, you become ineligible to apply for Post-OPT if your program has ended.

 

Can I study while I am on OPT?

Moving to a new degree seeking program would automatically invalidate your OPT. Studying while on OPT may be permissible for recreational purposes or professional development, as long as the primary activity remains Practical Training.

I have had OPT from a first Master’s Degree; can I do OPT for a second Master’s degree?

If you have obtained 12 months of Post-Completion OPT at the Master’s level and then go on to do a second Master’s degree, you will not be eligible for any further OPT authorization.  You are only allowed 12 months per degree level.  If you know that you will do two Master’s programs, it may be possible to split up your OPT between programs if you plan ahead.  Consult with an OGS Advisor if you wish to discuss this.

I have completed Post-OPT from my Master’s program. Now I am accepted to a Graduate Certificate Program. Am I eligible for another OPT after the Graduate Certificate Program?

Once you get your new I-20 for Grad Certificate Program, check the program information. It may say “Other: Graduate Certificate”.

When it comes to OPT eligibility, “Master’s program” and “Other” are considered two separate degree level, therefore students may apply one OPT for “Other” and another OPT for “Master’s” program.

Please note that you may be eligible in terms of degree level, however, you also have to meet all other eligibility requirements and also final decision of OPT approval can be only made by USCIS.  The regulation indicates that students can apply for Post-OPT upon completion of each higher degree level. It is up to USCIS to inquire how Graduate Certificate program is considered as a “higher degree level” of study after you were authorized for OPT based on Master’s program.