1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) Tutorial How to prepare your application materials for submissions to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
2 OPT Tutorial Outline Slides 3-6: What is OPT, OPT Eligibility Requirements, Application Process Overview Slides 7-24: Preparing Your OPT Application Materials Slide 9: Your Photo Slide 10: Paying the USCIS Fee Slide 11-23: Completing the I-765 Form Slide 24: Your OPT I-20 Copy Slide 25: Your Passport & Visa Copies Slide 26: Your I-94 Record Slide 27: Your Previous PSU CPT I-20 Copies Slide 28: Your Previous OPT I-20s and EAD Card Copy (May not be applicable) Slide 29: Your G-1145 Form Slide 30-35: Requesting an OPT I-20 Slide 36-40: Mailing Your OPT Application & Application Deadlines Slide 41-44: Receiving Your I-797, Your EAD Card, and Request for Evidence Slide 45-48: Student s Responsibilities: Maintaining Your F-1 Status & Reporting Requirements Slide 49-51: Traveling while on OPT Slide 52-53: Additional Information
3 What is OPT? Optional Practical Training is a temporary employment authorization by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that allows F-1 students to gain practical work experience. Allows for off-campus work authorization in a student s area of study (Post-Completion OPT: 12 Months). Student must be in full-time F-1 status for at least one academic year. Available to all majors and students in certain area of study may be eligible for a 24 months extension near the end of the 12 month period. You are only eligible for 12 months of full-time OPT for each higher degree level earned.
4 Are you eligible for OPT? Post-Completion OPT Have you been in a valid student status for one academic year? At PSU, one academic year means enrollment for consecutive: Winter Summer Quarter Summer Winter Quarter Spring Fall Quarter Fall Spring Quarter Will you be completing your program of study at PSU in the next 90 days? The application for OPT cannot be submitted more than 90 days before your program completion date. Have you engaged in Curricular Practical Training (CPT)? You must not have engaged in a full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for over 12 months at the same educational level. You DO NOT need to have a job offer to apply for OPT. The authorization is based on your program completion, not a specific employer.
5 Types of Qualifying Employment OPT Employment must be a minimum of 20 hours per week in a job that is related to your degree program. The burden of proof is on the student to demonstrate the relationship. The types of employment allowed during the initial 12-month period of OPT includes: Paid employment Multiple employers Work for hire (commonly referred to as 1099 employment) Self-employed business owner Employment through an agency Unpaid/Volunteer employment
6 Application Process Overview 1. Prepare your application materials Allow approximately 1 week to gather and organize the required documents. 2. Request an OPT I-20 The OPT I-20 will be ready for pick-up after 1) you have submitted the OPT request form, 2) Career Services has reviewed your completed application, and 3) you have cleared your balance with Finance Office. 3. Mail your OPT application packet 4. Receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
7 Step 1: Prepare Your OPT Application Materials
8 Application Materials Required documents for OPT application: 2 U.S. Passport Photos (with name and I-94 number written lightly in pencil on back of each) which are less than 30 days old USCIS Fee of $410. Credit Card, Check, or Money Order made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Original form I-765 ( Photocopy of OPT I-20 that was issued by DSO within the past 30 days (Page 1-3). Don t forget to sign it! Photocopy of passport biographical page and F-1 visa stamp, if applicable Photocopy of paper Form I-94 (both sides) or electronic I-94 record. Photocopy of PSU CPT I-20s, if applicable. Photocopy of previous OPT I-20s and previous EAD card, if applicable. Form G-1145 to confirm receipt and obtain case number in advance of paper notification.
9 Gather the Required Documentation Passport Photo Requirements The photos required to use for the OPT application must meet the specifications of U.S. style passport photos. To see a full description of these specifications, go to the U.S. Department of State website. Submit 2 identical color passport photos taken within 30 days of filing your application. The photos must have a white to off-white background, be printed on thin paper with a glossy finish, and be unmounted and unretouched. The passport-style photos must be 2 by 2. You must remove your glasses and your head must be bare unless you are wearing headwear as required by a religious order of which you are a member. Use pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name and I-94 number on the back of the photo. Do not damage the photo surface by pressing hard while writing.
10 Gather the Required Documentation Credit Card, Check, or Money Order USCIS Payment Methods: Check/Money Order or Credit Card Payment for $410 Check/Money Order should be made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security with SEVIS number in the memo line. Money order can be purchased at banks, post office and some local grocery stores. Make sure a name and address are printed on the check. If the address has changed, that is fine. Do not use temporary checks often issued by the bank when opening a new account. These checks have no name or address in the upper left hand corner. For Credit Card payment, submit form G-1450, authorize payment amount $410.
11 Gather the Required Documentation Form I-765 Download the I-765 form from the USCIS website. Important: Use the most current version. It is best to download and completes the form prior to submitting to Career Services. Verify the form again just before mailing the application since USCIS updates it frequently. Complete form by typing answers into the PDF or print legibly in black ink. Answer all questions fully and accurately. State that an item is not applicable with N/A. If the answer is none, write None. Completing the I-765 is simple, but some parts can be confusing. The following slides will help you complete those tricky questions. On July 16, 2018, the current version of the I-765 was updated. This tutorial reflects the newest version.
12 Complete the Form I-765 Top Portion: Leave the entire section For USCIS Use Only and To be completed by an attorney or Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)-accredited representative blank. Part 1. Reason for Applying Check the 1.a. box for Initial permission to accept employment. Part 2. Information About You #1 Name: Your entire family name should be in CAPITAL letters. Use upper and lower case for the first name. Please write your name exactly as it appears on your I-20. #2-4 Other Names Used: Enter your previous names, including names you have used on official records or documentation. If none, write N/A.
13 Complete the Form I-765 If you are typing the I-765 electronically, be aware that the form does not allow you to write the / character into these fields. You will need to hand-write the N/A wherever this appears in the instructions. Part 2. Information About You (Continued) #5.a. If the mailing address belongs to someone other than yourself, put their full name (First Name Last Name) here. If this is your address, write N/A. #5.b.-5.e. Write a valid mailing address in the U.S. It may be a residence, commercial address, or P.O. Box. U.S. Mailing Address This is where you would like the Receipt Notice and the EAD card to be mailed. This is very important! The address should be valid for at least 3-5 months, the length of time it will take to process the application. If you have plans to move during this time, use a reliable friend or family member s address to receive the EAD (indicate this in #5.a.)
14 Complete the Form I-765 #6 If you listed a mailing address that is NOT your physical living address, select No and complete #7.a.-7.d. with your current physical address. If Yes, write N/A in #7.a.-7.d. Physical address should reflect where you actually live. Other Information #8 F-1 students do not have an A-number, leave this blank. #9 F-1 students do not have an USCIS Online Account Number, leave this blank. #10-11 The responses to these questions should be straightforward. Please complete them accurately. #12 Check No if you have never applied for an EAD. Check Yes if you have previously applied for an EAD. You will need to provide copies of your previous EADs.
15 Complete the Form I-765 #13.a.-17.b. Social Security Number (SSN) #13.a. Check Yes if you have been issued an SSN, and enter your SSN with one letter in each box in #13.b. Check No if you do not yet have an SSN. #14 Check Yes if you want a new or replacement SSN card and complete #15-17.b. Check No if you do not want a new or replacement SSN card. #16.a.-17.b. Parents Names (If applicable): Your father s and mother s family name should be in CAPITAL letters. Use upper & lower case for the first name. You should receive your Social Security card from SSA about two weeks after receiving your approved EAD from USCIS.
16 Complete the Form I-765 #18 Countries of Citizenship: List all as applicable or write N/A in #18.b. if you do not have multiple citizenships. #19 Place of Birth: List the name of the country as it was named when you were born, even if its name has changed. #20 Make sure your Date of Birth is in the correct format of Month Date Year. Information About Your Last Arrival #21.a. I-94 Number: Use your current I-94 number. This is the number found on the electronic I-94 record or on the top left corner of the paper Form I-94 card. #21.b-e. Passport Information: Enter the information directly from your passport; use the information of the passport you last used to enter the U.S. (this should match the country on your I-20). #21.c. Travel Document: Write N/A here.
17 Complete the Form I-765 #22 Date of Last Entry into the U.S.: Your most recent entry date can be found on your passport admission stamp electronic I-94 record, or paper I-94 card. #23 Place of Arrival into the U.S.: Name of the Port of Entry city from your most recent entry. This information can be found on your passport admission stamp, electronic I-94 record, or paper I-94 card (usually as a code, i.e. LOS for Los Angeles.) If you drove across the border, write the name of the city where you entered the U.S. #24 Immigration Status at Last Entry: Status in which you entered the U.S. If you entered with an I-20 as a student, write F-1 Student. #25 Current Immigration Status: Current status should be F-1 Student. #26 SEVIS ID: Your SEVIS ID appears on the top left side of your I-20 and starts with N00.
18 Complete the Form I-765 #27 Eligibility Category: Use the following code for post-completion OPT: (c)(3)(b). #28-31.b. Other Eligibility Categories: Write N/A in these fields. N/A means not applicable. These questions are NOT applicable to applying for your 12- Month Post Completion OPT. #28 is for STEM OPT applicants only. Part 3. Applicant s Statement #1.a. Select 1.a. to indicate that you have read and understood the questions. #2 Write N/A in this field. #3-6 Provide your information as request.
19 Complete the Form I-765 Applicant s Declaration and Certification: Read the entire declaration carefully. Applicant s Signature #7.a.-7.b. Hand sign your name and provide the date of the signature. IMPORTANT! Your signature will be scanned and must fit within the box. It must NOT touch the box outline. If the signature is too big and crosses a line, your application could be delayed. Be conservative and use a signature smaller than normal.
20 Complete the Form I-765 Troubleshooting Signature Line: In some cases, the Don t forget to sign! automatic reminder will not disappear when you print the form. You should remove the auto-filled Don t forget to sign! We recommend trying: To open the form in the most recent version of Adobe Reader To print a blank version of the form s second page from your web browser.
21 Complete the Form I-765 Part 4-5. Applicant s Statement This sections are not applicable to you, since you ve completed the form yourself, so write N/A. This section is for those who use an interpreter or other paid preparer to complete the form. Part 6. Additional Information You only need to complete this section if you have: Previously had other SEVIS IDs Ever been authorized for CPT or OPT If neither of these apply to you, leave Part 6 blank and you are done with the I-765. The next slide will contain information on how to complete Part 6.
22 Complete the Form I-765 Part 6. Additional Information (Only if this is applicable to you) #1.a.-1.c. Provide your name again as listed in Part 2, 1.a.-1.c. #2 Leave blank. #3.a.-3.c. Reference Page 3, Part 2, Item 27 #3.d. List all previously used SEVIS number include from all previous F-1 programs in the U.S. including high school, short stays, community colleges, or previous I-20s at PSU. #3.d. If you have had previous CPT and/or OPT, write See attached documentation for previous CPT and/or OPT authorizations and include copies of all previous CPT and OPT I-20s and EAD cards with your application. If you COMPLETED any part of Page 7, Part 6: You must add your signature and the date to Page 7. Simply sign and date in the blank space at the bottom of Page 7.
23 Complete the Form I-765 You are done with the I-765! Review all the information on the form for accuracy. You must submit ALL 7 pages of the I-765. Make a copy of your completed I-765 application to keep for your records, in case there is a problem with the application.
24 Gather the Required Documentation Photocopy of OPT I-20 (All pages): Must be received by USCIS within 30 days of being issued by DSO. Original must be signed by the student at the bottom of Page 1. The requested OPT start and end dates will appear on Page 2. Do not mail the original I-20!
25 Gather the Required Documentation Photocopy of Passport and Visa: Photocopy the passport biographic page (with photo and passport expiration date) Passport must be valid! Photocopy the F-1 visa, if applicable. Visa does not need to be valid.
26 Gather the Required Documentation Photocopy of I-94 Information: The I-94 can be either: An electronic I-94 record. Visit to access and print your record. (Select: Already Visiting & Need Proof of Visitor Status?) OR A paper I-94 card stapled into your passport. Include a copy of both sides, even though the back side may be blank.
27 Gather the Required Documentation Photocopy of Previous PSU CPT I-20s: Please include all PSU CPT I-20s with your current SEVIS Number. Copies of your original I-20s are best, but if you have lost a document, please request these from DSO when you turn in your Instruction of OPT Application. Old and new versions of the I-20 are acceptable. Copy all 3 pages. Keep the original for records. If you have never used CPT at PSU, you do not need to include previous I- 20s.
28 Gather the Required Documentation Photocopy of Previous OPT I-20s and EAD, if applicable: If an EAD was received in the past, include a copy of the front and back of the card. Can be from OPT approved at a prior institution or different education level. Include previous OPT I-20s and I-797c notice of approval as well if available.
29 Gather the Required Documentation Form G-1145: This is an optional form. Attached to the top of the OPT application packet. Use this form to request text and notification(s) regarding your application. Download the form at: WARNING! USCIS will rarely contact you by phone regarding the status of your OPT application. If you receive a phone call from a person claiming to work for USCIS or any other government agency, do not provide your personal information to them. Note the person s name and phone number and contact a PSU Career Services Officer before responding.
30 Step 2: Request an OPT I-20
31 Requesting for OPT I-20 Complete the Instruction for OPT Application ( Complete the Student Information Section Choose your OPT Start Date Print a copy of page 8 of this tutorial and write your name on the top right hand corner of the page. Submit the Instruction for OPT application form, page 8 of the tutorial and the complete OPT application package to Career Services to make an appointment to review your document.
32 Choose your OPT Start Date Your OPT start date is the date that your (proposed) 12 months of work authorization begins. Your OPT start date must be within 60-day grace period after the program completion date. The requested start & end dates will be noted on Page 2 of the new OPT I-20. The end date will usually be 1 year from your start date (i.e. a July 2 start date will have a July 1 end date.) NOTE: Once USCIS receives the OPT application, it is not possible to change the requested start and end dates.
33 Requesting for OPT I-20 Meeting with Career Services Bring completed OPT Application Package. Clearing all Balance Due with Finance Office All current balance needs to be cleared with Finance Office prior to DSO release of OPT I-20.
34 Check your OPT I-20 for Accuracy After receiving your OPT I-20, notify DSO immediately if there are any errors. PAGE 1 Program End Date Program completion date will be updated to the program completion date (I-20 will remain valid through OPT authorization period on Page 2 or the approved EAD card dates). School Attestation Make sure there is a DSO signature. Check the date USCIS must receive your application within 30 days of this date. Student Attestation You should sign & date I-20. Students 18 and over do not need a parent s signature.
35 Check your OPT I-20 for Accuracy After receiving your OPT I-20, notify DSO immediately if there are any errors. PAGE 2 OPT start and end dates requested (OPT start date may be adjusted if USCIS does not complete the processing of your OPT by the requested date. Apply at least 90 days before requested start date, if possible.) OPT applications must be received by USCIS no later than 30 days after the date listed in the Travel Endorsement date. Please see DSO if there are concerns that the application will not arrive on time.
36 Step 3: Mailing Your OPT Application Packet
37 Mailing the OPT Application from California USCIS Mailing Addresses For people who live in California* FedEx, UPS & Other Express Carrier Mail USCIS Attn: AOS 1820 E. Skyharbor, Circle S Suite 100 Phoenix, AZ U.S. Postal Service Mail USCIS P.O. Box Phoenix, AZ If using USPS, choose Express or Priority Mail option and choose Certified Mail. * If your address on the I-765 is NOT in California, speak with the Career Services Officer. The OPT application may need to be mailed to a different address.
38 Mailing the OPT Application from Outside of California If using a mailing address in Mail your application to Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands. USCIS USPS P.O. Box Phoenix, AZ Express Deliveries USCIS Attn: AOS 1820 E. Skyharbor, Circle S, Suite 100 Phoenix, AZ 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 USCIS P.O. Box Dallas, TX USCIS Attn: AOS 2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business Suite 400 Lewisville, TX 75067
39 The Application Deadline USCIS must receive your complete OPT application no later than 30 days after the OPT I-20 has been issued. The issue date is located next to the advisor s signature on Page 1 of the OPT I-20. Please account for mailing time. Additionally, USCIS must receive your application before the end of your 60 days grace period. You should apply for OPT before you graduate/finish coursework. Your application must be submitted to USCIS from within the U.S. If you exit the U.S. after your program completion date without applying for OPT, you cannot return and will lose your option for OPT.
40 Post-Completion OPT Time Frame Apply for OPT Apply up to 90 days before completion of degree but no earlier. Start date- 2 months (60 days) to choose from after completion date 60 days Degree Completion Date Engage in OPT (up to 12 or 36 months) 60 day grace period OPT Application Deadline
41 Step 4: Receive Your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card
42 I-797 Notice of Action You should receive the notice by mail within 2-4 weeks after mailing the OPT application to USCIS. The I-797 is very important. If you lose the receipt, there is no way to replace it. The I-797 is necessary if you want to: 1) Inquire about the status of your OPT application 2) Travel outside the U.S. when your OPT is pending. Receipt Number The case number for the OPT application at USCIS. Check the status of the case on the USCIS website at: Received Date Date when USCIS begins processing the application. (It may not be the actual date the application was received, but it is when the case was entered into the system.) Address Information Verify your name, date of birth, and address on the I-765 receipt notice.
43 If There is a Problem with Your Application If there is a problem with your application, the USCIS will send you a notice by mail called a Request for Evidence (RFE). An RFE does not mean that your application has been rejected. It simply means that you need to send in additional documents before your EAD can be issued. Getting an RFE will delay the processing of your application usually by about one month. In some cases, if too many items are missing from your application, the USCIS will return the entire application to you. If this happens, you must make the corrections and send the application before the end date of your 60-day grace period. To avoid delays, review your application materials for completeness and sign all forms before mailing them to USCIS.
44 The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Review card to make sure the information is accurate. Present your EAD to employers as proof of your legal work authorization in the US. The EAD is a required document for entry to the US during OPT. Send a copy of your EAD card to PSU Career Services and a copy of your Job Offer Letter. Please also complete the report form on the school website.
45 Student s Responsibilities
46 Your Responsibilities During OPT Reporting Requirements Employment Requirements Travel Documents for Re-Entry Applying for an F-1 Visa on OPT
47 Reporting Requirements The following must be submitted to PSU Career Services You MUST report any changes to your employment, address, and/or name within 10 days. You MUST submit a copy of your EAD card upon receipt. You MUST submit a Career Placement Information Form after receiving employment. You MUST submit a job offer letter after receiving employment.
48 SEVP Portal The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has its own SEVP Portal for students on OPT/STEM. One Day 1 of your approved OPT, you will receive an from SEVP with instructions on how to create an account. This will come from Be aware of scams SEVP will NEVER ask you for a payment to register to register for the optional SEVP Portal. Registration for SEVP Portal is OPTIONAL. The SEVP Portal will NOT replace our student reporting requirement. We ask that ALL PSU students on OPT continue to report to PSU for all STEM OPT reporting requirements.
49 Travel Documents for Re-Entry Documents Before Completing Program & Before EAD Issuance After Completing Program & Before EAD Issuance After Completing Program & After EAD Issuance Valid passport Valid F-1 visa stamp (if applicable) OPT I-20 with a valid travel endorsement signed within 6 months by DSO Evidence of continued enrollment (e.g. Enrollment Verification) Evidence of financial support OPT receipt: I-797 Notice of Action Job offer letter from employer EAD (Employment Authorization Document) Strongly recommended Strongly recommended Strongly recommended Strongly recommended Your admission to the U.S. is always at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection Officers. To avoid problems, you must have the required documents outlined above.
50 Important Information on Travel Avoid long absences from the U.S. during the OPT period. Time spent outside of the U.S. while unemployed by a U.S. employer counts toward your 90 days of unemployment. Attempting to re-enter the U.S. close to the expiration date of your OPT can be risky. You must not enter the U.S. in a status other than F-1. This may result in the loss of your OPT eligibility. Travel after Program Completion, But Before OPT Card is Received There is a high risk associated with travel and return while your OPT is pending after the program completion date. If there are any problems with your application, you may not be able to respond to USCIS in a timely manner, which could delay processing of your EAD. If your OPT application is denied while outside the U.S., you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status and will not be able to reapply.
51 Applying for an F-1 Visa on OPT If you are traveling abroad and your F-1 visa has expired, you must obtain a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S. When going to your visa interview, bring the documents below. 1. Valid passport 2. Valid I-20 with travel endorsement from PSU DSO within the past 6 months 3. EAD card 4. Job offer in field of study 5. Evidence of sufficient funds (e.g. a bank statement, a letter from a sponsor or a job offer letter) 6. Any additional supporting document Check the U.S. Department of State website for more information about getting a visa and specific requirements at the local embassy or consulate.
52 Additional Information
53 Important Information You MUST work a minimum of 20 hours per week in a position related to your field of study. You CANNOT exceed more than 90 days of unemployment while on OPT. Days of unemployment prior to your EAD start date do not count towards the 90 days. It is your responsibility to keep records of your employment and any periods of unemployment.
54 Additional Questions? Please speak with Career Services. To make an appointment,
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