Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 students may be eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization, which allows international students to gain professional experience in the U.S. that is directly related to their field of study. Employment under OPT can be paid or unpaid. Please review the information below to learn more about OPT and the application process. OPT requires authorization from USCIS, and the average processing time for OPT applications is 3-6 months. ISSS encourages all students to apply for OPT as early as possible due to USCIS processing times.

Pre-completion and Post-completion OPT

OPT Eligibility

How to Apply

Reporting Requirements on Post-completion OPT

Health Insurance

Travel on Post-completion OPT

CAP GAP EXTENSION

Pre-completion and Post-completion OPT

Pre-completion OPT (your OPT start date is before you graduate or before you are coursework complete):

Pre-completion OPT is for off-campus employment during your academic program that is directly related to your major. You can apply as early as 90 days before your requested employment start date. If you do not know the exact date you will start working, you may choose the earliest date you hope to start working as your prospective start date and calculate your application timeline accordingly. Students may apply for part-time Pre-completion OPT (up to 20 hours/week) during the academic semester. Time used for part-time Pre-completion OPT will be counted at a half-time rate and deducted from your total 12 months of OPT eligibility. Students may apply for full-time Pre-completion OPT (more than 20 hours/week) only during breaks or if they have completed all coursework.

Students who are interested in an internship opportunity off campus during their degree program may also be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Students who are coursework complete may be eligible for either Pre-completion or Post-completion OPT; please review additional information for coursework complete students. Speak with an ISSS advisor if you have any questions about selecting the best authorization option.

Post-completion OPT (your OPT start date is after you graduate or once you are coursework complete):

Post-completion OPT allows F-1 students to remain in the U.S. after your 60 day grace period and work in a position that is directly related to your academic major. You can apply for OPT from 90 days before your degree conferral end date and up until 60 days after your degree conferral. Graduate students may also apply for Post-completion OPT once you are coursework complete. Students who are applying for Post-completion OPT must pay a $100 Optional Practical Training Administrative Services Fee. This fee supports the additional application review, monitoring, and services related to students on Post-completion OPT. 

The information on this page is for students applying for Pre-completion or Post-completion OPT. Students who are already approved for Post-completion OPT and wish to apply for the 24 month extension should review the information our STEM OPT page.

OPT eligibility

In order to apply for OPT, you must

  • Be in valid F-1 status
  • Have completed at least one full academic year as a full-time student
  • Be making normal progress toward degree completion
  • For Post-completion OPT, you may apply to USCIS up to 90 days before your expected completion date or up to 60 days after that date.
  • For Pre-completion OPT, you may apply to USCIS up to 90 days before the date you want to begin work

F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of OPT for each higher degree level. If you have previously been approved for OPT at your current degree level or a higher degree, you are not eligible for additional OPT. Students who have completed 12 months of Full-time CPT are not eligible for Post-completion OPT. Part-time CPT has no impact on OPT eligibility. If you were previously approved for Pre-completion OPT in your current degree program, that time will be subtracted from your total available time for Post-completion OPT. Please speak with an ISSS advisor during walk-in hours if you have any questions about your eligibility

How to apply for OPT

Do not submit the online or paper Form I-765 application to USCIS until you have received your OPT I-20 from the ISSS office. If you submit a Form I-765 application before you have received your OPT I-20, your application will be denied.

Submit your OPT I-20 Request to ISSS

  • Meet with your academic advisor to complete the OPT Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form. You will complete the top portion of the form, and your advisor must complete the rest of the form and sign it.
  • Decide what you want your requested OPT start date to be. You can choose any date that is between one day after your program completion date and 60 days after your program completion date. 

Post-Completion OPT Application Timeline  

Fall 2021 Graduates

Fall OPT Timeline

Winter 2022 Graduates

Winter 2022 OPT Timeline

  • The latest date you can apply for OPT is the end of your 60 day grace period. USCIS must receive your OPT application by the last date of your grace period or your OPT application will be denied.
  • The USCIS processing time for an OPT application is 3-6 months.
  • If your OPT application is processed after your requested OPT start date, the start date on your EAD card will be changed to the date that your application is processed.
  • If you will be applying for OPT as an ABD student, your dates may vary, Email intl.work@binghamton.edu or speak with an ISSS advisor during advising hours to confirm your timeline.
  • For students applying for Post-completion OPT only: pay the $100 Optional Practical Training Administrative Services Fee. You can pay the fee online and will need to provide the Touchnet Order Number on the OPT Request e-form. 
  • Submit the OPT I-20 Request to the ISSS Office. ISSS processing time for OPT I-20 Requests is 7-10 business days. You must upload a completed Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form and a completed Form I-765 as part of your request.
    • Review our sample Form I-765 for students who already have a SSN and students who do not have a SSN
    • Include all 7 pages of the I-765
    • On page 3, question 27, enter the appropriate employment code: for Pre-completion OPT (work done before graduation), use (c)(3)(A). For Post-completion OPT (work done after graduation), use (c)(3)(B).
    • Use part 6 (page 7) to provide all previous SEVIS ID numbers and list any previously authorized CPT or OPT and the academic level at which it was authorized.

Receive your new I-20 

  • You will receive an email from ISSS when your OPT I-20 is ready. Review this email carefully for any changes that you need to make on Form I-765.
  • When you receive the new I-20, review it to ensure all information is accurate. Add a copy of this new I-20 to your OPT application.
  • Decide if you are going to file your Form I-765 OPT application online or by mail. 
  • Review the application instructions on this page. Ensure that you have all of the required documents.

Prepare and submit your OPT application

Do not submit the online or paper Form I-765 application to USCIS until you have received your OPT I-20 from the ISSS office. If you submit a Form I-765 application before you have received your OPT I-20, your application will be denied.

Whether applying online or by paper, you should keep in mind that the I-765 application is your personal application for employment authorization. You are responsible for following all USCIS instructions and making sure that the application is correct and complete. ISSS cannot troubleshoot technical issues with the online filing process. ISSS will not have access to your application and cannot correct, edit, or change any information on your application for you. If you have any issues or questions regarding your I-765 application, you will need to work directly with USCIS.

Filing Form I-765

  • Filing Form I-765 online

    ISSS has prepared a step-by-step Guide to Filing Online for post-completion OPT applications. 

    You will need to prepare clear digital copies (refer to the full guide for additional details on file types and sizes) of the following documents:

    • Passport Photo – taken within the last 30 days 
    • Most recent I-94 record
    • F-1 Visa
    • Passport ID page – passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future
    • OPT I-20 – USCIS has to receive your application within 30 days of the OPT I-20 issue date found on the bottom of page 1
    • Copies of any previous I-20s with CPT or OPT authorizations
    • Previously issued EAD card (if applicable)

    To file Form I-765 online, you will need to create a myUSCIS account. Follow the instructions in the ISSS Online Filing Guide to create your account and complete Form I-765 online. 

    If you would like an ISSS advisor to review your form before submitting it, there is an option to "View draft snapshot" before submitting your application online. You can create a pdf of your draft I-765 and email it to intlwork@binghamton.edu for an advisor to review. 

    Important: USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days of the date your OPT I-20 was issued. If they receive it more than 30 days after that date, your application will be denied.

    When you submit your Form I-765 online, you will receive confirmation that your form was submitted. Check your receipt notice to confirm that your name, date of birth, and address are correct. If they are incorrect, you will need to request a correction from USCIS.

    The information contained on this page is provided by the International Student and Scholar Services as a service solely to the international students at Binghamton University. Utilization of these materials by anyone other than the above-noted intended recipients is strictly prohibited. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither Binghamton University nor International Student and Scholar Services is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this material, or the results obtained from the use of this information.

  • Filing Form I-765 by mail

    Note: ISSS recommends you prepare the documents in the following order and do not staple any documents.

    • Two Passport Photos – taken within the last 30 days. Write your name and I-94 number on the back of the photos lightly in pencil or ballpoint pen.
    • Application Fee of $410
      • Check/Money Order made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
      • Credit card: you must complete Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction to pay your application fee with a credit card. Please note: some students have had applications rejected because their credit card company declined the charge. ISSS recommends using a money order if possible.
    • G-1145 e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. Use this form to request a text and/or email when USCIS accepts your I-765 form.
    • I-765 Form – You must include all 7 pages with your application. This document must be typed.
    • Document Photocopies – Do not send any originals of these supporting documents
      • Most recent I-94 record
      • F-1 Visa
      • Passport ID page – passport must be valid at least 6 months into the future
      • OPT I-20 – USCIS has to receive your application within 30 days of the OPT I-20 issue date found on the bottom of page 1.
      • All I-20s that you have been issued, including I-20s from other schools (excluding the instructions page). If you are missing any of your previous Binghamton University I-20s, you can request I-20 copies online. Please be as specific as possible in your request. 
      • Previously issued EAD card (if applicable)

    You may also meet with an ISSS advisor during advising hours to review your paper OPT application before you mail it.

    Make a copy of your entire application for your records before sending your application to USCIS.

    Mail your application to USCIS and wait to receive your EAD card.

    Use Priority Mail/Express Mail to send your OPT application to USCIS.

    US Postal Service (Priority Mail)

    USCIS
    PO Box 805373
    Chicago, IL 60680

    FEDEX, UPS or DHL

    USCIS
    Attn: I-765 C03
    131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
    Chicago, IL 60603-5517

    Important: USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days of the date your OPT I-20 was issued. If they receive it more than 30 days after that date, your application will be denied.

    Within 2-10 weeks of mailing your application, you should receive a paper receipt notice in the mail. Check that your name, date of birth, and address are correct on this notice. If they are incorrect, contact USCIS at the phone number listed on your receipt notice. You can also check the status of your application online.

    The information contained on this page is provided by the International Student and Scholar Services as a service solely to the international students at Binghamton University. Utilization of these materials by anyone other than the above-noted intended recipients is strictly prohibited. We try to provide useful information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this page. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Neither Binghamton University nor International Student and Scholar Services is responsible for any errors or omissions contained in this material, or the results obtained from the use of this information.

Reporting requirements while on Post-completion OPT

While on OPT, you must be employed at least 20 hours per week in work that is directly related to your major. This work can be paid or unpaid. You may have a maximum of 90 days of unemployment during your 12 months of Post-completion OPT.

You are required to report any changes in your address, immigration status, or employment within 10 days. This includes starting a new job, changing employers, or ending employment. Do not submit any employment information until you have received your EAD card.

There are two ways to report your employment information (only choose one):

  1. SEVP Portal – Once you receive your EAD card, you will receive an email from SEVP (do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov.) with instructions on how to create an account. 
  2. Use the ISSS Report OPT Employment E-Form to report your employment and the U.S. Address Update E-form to report changes in address.

If you do not report your employment information, the U.S. government will terminate your F-1 SEVIS record 90 days after the OPT start date that is printed on your EAD card. If you have more than 90 days of total unemployment at any point during Post-completion OPT, the U.S. government will terminate your SEVIS record. Please note that time spent outside the United States, if not employed by a U.S. employer, counts towards the 90-day period of unemployment. A terminated SEVIS record cancels the OPT authorization and requires you to leave the U.S.

If you have created your SEVP Portal account and forgot your password, you can reset it on the SEVP Portal login page. See the SEVP Portal Help pages for more information on accessing your portal account. If you are locked out of your account or did not activate your account within 14 days of your EAD start date, you can submit the SEVP Portal Access Request e-form.

Health insurance

Please note that you may be eligible to continue on the Binghamton University International Student Health Insurance Plan while you are on OPT. Please review our OPT Health Insurance page for more details.

Travel on Post-completion OPT

You should not travel outside the U.S. after your I-20 end date if your Post-completion OPT application is still pending. For more details on travel after your OPT application is approved, review our OPT Travel page.

Cap Gap Extension

F-1 students who are the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition may be eligible for an extension of work authorization called the “cap gap” extension. You may learn more about the cap gap extension on the USCIS website. If your employer has filed an H-1B petition on your behalf, you should review the ISSS Cap Gap Extension page for additional details and to request an updated I-20. 

Additional OPT Questions

If you have additional questions about Optional Practical Training, review the ISSS OPT Frequently Asked Questions or contact ISSS