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Optional Practical Training (OPT) Students

The I-765 application fee is $380.00.

APPLYING FOR OPT?

  1. Decide whether your are eligible. You must be enrolled for at least two semesters before applying, and are entitled to 12 months only for each progressive degree level. You do not need a job offer to apply.
  2. Attend an OPT Information Session. At least 3 sessions are offered each semester. Notice for these sessions is sent through the OISS listserv to your IUSB email address.
  3. You will receive a packet of information at the sessions. Please assemble the materials as directed.
  4. Make an appointment with the OISS to complete the application process and assemble the required documents.
  5. Keep in touch with the OISS via your IUSB email account for application updates. All USCIS responses are sent care of the OISS, including your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Key Points to Remember while on OPT

You are an F-1 student while on OPT, although you are no longer considered an actively enrolled IUSB student. Keep in mind that you are responsible for following many of the same regulations you did as a student with regard to your immigration status. If you are not sure which rules apply to you, please ask a qualified OISS student representative. Here are a few points to remember.

1) Out-of Country Travel
You are cautioned against departing from the U.S. before you have received your EAD card and secured employment or a job offer. If you must leave the U.S. and can not return before your academic program end date, you will likely need---in addition to your other valid immigration documents, including an I-20 with a travel signature no older than 6 months---your USCIS receipt. Optimally, you should be able to present upon return to the country, once you are in OPT, a letter of employment along with your EAD card.

2) Keep your Physical Address Current at all Times
You must continue to keep your address updated in the SEVIS system while on OPT. Every time you move to a new location, you must inform the OISS within 10 days of the move. You may send your address updates to copmille@iusb.edu.

3) Employment May Not Begin until You Receive Your Approval Notice and EAD Card
You may not begin working until the date you have chosen has arrived and you are in receipt of you EAD card. Even if you receive notice of approval, you should wait to begin employment until after you receive the EAD.

4) Delays in Receiving the EAD Card
If you have not received a receipt within a few weeks of your application, please contact the OISS. However, it can take up to 90 days after receipt before your EAD card is approved. We can not contact the USCIS about a delay until after 90 days have passed.

5) Report Your Employer Name, Address, and Start Date
All students in OPT should report as soon as possible the employer name, address, and employment start date by writing an email to copmille@iusb.edu.

6) Qualifying Employment under OPT Authorization
You may work only in positions that are related to your field of study. You should maintain evidence of this requirement for each job you hold, including: proof of job/position duration, job title, contact information for supervisor or manager, and a description of the work performed. If it is unclear from your position title, it is recommended that you obtain a signed letter from your employer as to how your degree is related to your employment.

You may engage in both paid and unpaid employment, but be sure to discuss with your employer as to whether any volunteer labor you perform meets with the Department of Labor criteria for volunteer work or internships. You may work for an agency or multiple employers, perform work for hire, or be self-employed. In each instance, however, it is vital that you maintain adequate documentation.

  • Paid Employment – You may work part-time (at least 20 hours/week) or full-time while on Post-Completion OPT.
  • Multiple Employers – You may work for multiple employers, but all employment must be related to your field of study.
  • Work for Hire – You may perform services on a contractual relationship with an employer, rather than be hired as their regular employee. You should maintain evidence of every contractual job that you accept.
  • Self – Employed Business Owner – You may start your own business and be self-employed. In this situation, you must work full-time. You must be able to prove that you have proper business licenses and are actively engaged in a business related to your degree program.
  • Employment Through an Agency – You must be able to provide evidence showing that you worked an average of at least 20 hours/week while employed by the agency.
  • Unpaid Employment – You may choose to work in a volunteer position related to your field.  As long as you work at least 20 hours per week, this will qualify as “employment” for the purposes of the 90-day rule.  Request that your employer provide you with documentation of your employment.  Important Note:  This is only an option for jobs that are always unpaid.  You cannot do work for free if the company would generally pay someone to do it as this is a violation of U.S. labor laws.

7) No More than 90 Days of Unemployment Allowed
While in post-completion OPT, you may not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment. If you are having difficulty in securing employment, it is suggested that you maintain a log of your employment search.

8) OPT Extensions
The 17 month extension is only available to students in the STEM fields.  To be eligible for the extension,  the student's employer must be an e-verify employer. The H1-B Cap Gap Extension is available to those who have been receipted for a pending H1-B application.

9) Notify the OISS if Your Status Changes
If you are the beneficiary of an approved H1-B petition or move to another status, please send word to the OISS and a copy of your approval notice or other immigration documents showing the newly approved status.

10) Transfers and Termination of Status
If you want to transfer to another school or begin another degree program with IUSB, please discuss how to transfer your record to the new institution or update it for an IUSB degree program. Remember that if you violate the terms of your status, OISS must end terminate your status in SEVIS.

11) 60 Days Grace
You are granted 60 days grace at the conclusion of your OPT authorization in which you may prepare to leave the country or transfer to another institution. Please note that you must apply for a STEM extension before the last day of OPT authorization.

Information about these changes are being constantly updated.  Once information has been finalized, we will email students and update our Web site.  For more information please contact Constance Peterson-Miller at 574.520.4419.