Applying for OPT

As an F1 student, you have the option of working in the United States by engaging in practical training after the completion of your program. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning.

Requirements for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • OPT must relate to your major or course of study.
  • You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, (i.e. you may have 12 months of OPT at the bachelor’s level and another 12 months of OPT at the master’s level).
  • You must apply for work authorization by electronically filing a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you a Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) upon approving your Form I-765.
  • Wait to start work until the start date and after you receive your EAD.

When to Apply for OPT

You can apply up to 90 days before the last day of your program end date or 60 days after the end of your program. You are strongly encouraged to apply at your earliest date (90 days prior to the end of your program) because it takes on average 3 months to receive your EAD card.

How to Apply for OPT

Step 1: Submit the OPT Request Form and all the items listed on the OPT Application Checklist to OISE.

  1. Fill out the OPT Request Form.
  2. Obtain the approval from your Academic Advisor.
  3. Submit the completed and approved OPT Request Form and Pre-OPT to OISE so that they can issue you an OPT I-20 that you will need to include in your OPT application.

Step 2:  Prepare the following documents from the OPT Application Checklist.

  1. OPT Request Form
  2. Create your Online USCIS Account
  3. Digital U.S. Style Passport Photo
  4. Copy of Passport Photograph Page
  5. Copy of Front and Back of any previous EAD Cards (if applicable)
  6. Copies of Previous I-20s with CPT or OPT Information (if available)
  7. Digital Copy of your I-20 with OPT Recommendation  
  8. Copy of most recent I-94
  9. Must have credit card/Debit card or ACH to pay online filing fee ($470)

Helpful Hints:

  1. Rename all files with LAST NAME (all CAPS), First Name and the name of the document (Example: Mouse Mickey Digital Photo.pdf)
  2. 6 mb max file size
  3. Use Jpg, jpeg—for your digital photo
  4. Use Jpg, jpeg, pdf, tif, tiff—for all other documents

Step 3: Submit all of your documents using the Pre-OPT Review Form.

Step 4: Final Review of all documents by OISE and submit application online.

Step 5: Once you receive your Employment Authorization Document Card (EAD Card), you must submit a copy of the front and the back to the OISE office.

Step 6: You must report your current address and employment status once your OPT starts.

  • Reporting must occur no more than 10 days after any changes with your address.
  • Reporting must occur as soon as possible with any employment/unemployment changes at: OPT Change of Employment

Step 7: Once your OPT ends or if you decide to go home and not complete it, you should notify the OISE office via email.

OPT Reminders

  • Maintain your F-1 status while on OPT: OPT is an F-1 student benefit. You continue in F-1 status as long as you are on OPT.
  • OPT Reporting Requirements: While you are on OPT, you are required to report the following to the OISE within 10 days of any of the following changes:
    • U.S. Home Address
    • Name & Address of Employer
    • Loss of Employment
  • OPT Employment must be both authorized and in your field of studies:

Employment is authorized to begin once your OPT start date has passed and you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). OPT employment must provide practical training experience in your field of studies. For example, if you completed your degree in Music, you are to be employed in a job giving your experience in music, not as an accountant.

  • Obtaining a Social Security Card for OPT Employment:

You are eligible to apply for a Social Security Card once the start date of your OPT has passed. Bring your EAD card, I-20 requesting OPT, valid passport, F-1 visa, I-94, U.S. issued Driver License (if you have one), and an ID issued by your home country government (birth certificate, Driver License, Military ID, or government ID card), and your local U.S. address. You can apply at any Social Security Office. The office in Glendora is most familiar with La Verne students. Cards are generally mailed to your home address about two weeks after you file the application. For more information regarding F-1 international students and Social Security, click here.

  • Limited Periods of Unemployment Permitted to Maintain Status:

During OPT, your F-1 status is dependent upon employment. A student on OPT fails to maintain F-1 status once he/she has accrued a total of more than 90 days of unemployment. You must keep a record of the dates you are unemployed. It is also your responsibility to keep the name and address of your employer and/or loss of employment current in SEVIS by communicating with OISE (see #2 above).

  • Be certain you have Medical Insurance:

Your La Verne Medical Insurance terminates on the day of your last final exam at La Verne. We advise you to carry sufficient medical insurance for emergencies as long as you remain in the U.S.

  • Carry proper documents when you Travel outside of the U.S. and re-enter the U.S.

If you travel outside the U.S. after your OPT start date, or at the time that the EAD card is issued, it may be risky for you to re-enter the country without the EAD card in combination with a job offer letter.  For further information, click here.

  • Read your La Verne E-mail regularly:

OISE will continue to communicate immigration updates and other important information to you at your email address. Read your email regularly to be certain you are aware of changes that may affect you and your F-1 status.

  • If you end your OPT early:

If you decide to end your OPT before the end date on your EAD card and I-20, please contact OISE. It is important that your SEVIS record be attended to so that you will not have difficulty obtaining a U.S. visa in the future.

  • What to do after OPT ends:

When your OPT ends, you have 60 days to do one of the following:

    1. Depart the U.S.
    2. Change to another visa status, such as H-1B
    3. Apply for a new I-20 to begin a new La Verne program of studies or transfer out from La Verne to another educational institution to begin a new program of studies

OPT Questions? Email our office at: