OPT Application Instructions

Apply Early!

Earliest time to apply for:
Pre-completion OPT

  • If a student has not completed a full academic year: 90 days before completion of full academic year
  • If student has completed a full academic year: 120 days before OPT start date

Post-completion OPT

  • Up to 90 days before program end date

STEP 1: Complete the OPT Request Form

STEP 2: Make an appointment with your International Student Advisor via email (cie@umw.edu)

Bring the following documents to the appointment:

  • Blank Form I-765 application (this is the actual OPT application you mail to USCIS)
    • Check the box indicating that you are requesting “Permission to accept employment.”
    • Enter appropriate eligibility codes for OPT:
      • Pre-completion OPT request, use eligibility code (c) (3) (A)
      • Post-completion OPT request, use eligibility code (c) (3) (B)
    • Enter a mailing address where you can receive mail 4-5 months after your application is submitted, as USCIS mail is not forwarded!!!
  • Passport
  • Copy of I-94 record – Download from U.S. Customs & Border Protection website
  • Two passport-sized photos (write your SEVIS number lightly on the back of each photo)
  • A check or money order in the amount of $410 made to U.S. Department of Homeland Security

**During your advising appointment, your International Advisor will print your new I-20 with the “OPT Recommended” endorsement.  You MUST include this updated, signed I-20 with your I-765 application materials. 

STEP 3: Review all the required documents (see checklist below) before you submit your application.  

Your application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of OPT being requested in SEVIS!!!

Quick Checklist:

  • Form I-765 (EAD application)
  • Check or money order for *$410 payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security – write your SEVIS ID on memo line
  • 2 identical photos taken within the past 30 day, white background, 2” x 2”-see Photo guidelines.  Print lightly in pencil on back of photos SEVIS ID#, full name, and date of birth and place in envelope.
  • Attach (do not staple) photo envelope and check to upper left-hand corner of application
  • Photocopy of new I-20 with OPT recommendation (NOT original)
  • Photocopy of I-94
  • Photocopy of your passport photo page and F-1 visa page
  • Job offer letter (optional)
  • USCIS E-notification (optional) —receive an e-mail and/or text message that your application has been accepted, if you file Form G-1145, available at uscis.gov and clip it to the first page of your application.
  • Make copies of application materials submitted to USCIS and keep for your records

STEP 4:  Submit your complete application either Online or by Mail

4.1. Online: Before you can submit your application online, you must first create a USCIS online account at myaccount.uscis.gov. Please see here for more information.  Online filing allows applicants to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case anytime from anywhere, and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail.

4.2. Mail: Before you decide to mail your application materials, please check with USCIS for up-to-date mailing information (select “Foreign Students” from the menu).

After you submit your OPT application you should receive three documents from the government:

  • Receipt called “Notice of Action” or form I-797 within 3-4 weeks.  The notice will include a case number or WAC #. You can check the status of your application via the USCIS online case status.
  • Approval notice
  • EAD Card within 2-3 weeks of receiving the approval notice.  Scan front and back of the card and e-mail to cie@umw.edu.
  • If you receive an RFE (Request for Evidence), contact cie@umw.edu immediately.

If You Change Your Mind

If after requesting an OPT I-20 from CIE, you decide not to send your application to USCIS, you must notify us. Please send an email to cie@umw.edu telling us that you plan to not apply for OPT and indicating the date you intend to leave the U.S. (must be within 60 days of I-20 completion date). If you do not notify us, we will be unable to adjust your SEVIS record to accurately reflect your situation.