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When to Apply for OPT

        Application processing typically takes 2~3 months.

        Apply as early as you are eligible to start applying!!

Must be RECEIPTED BY USCIS no earlier than 90 days prior to your requested start date (IMPORTANT: the requested OPT start date must be after one academic year enrollment requirement is met).

Must be RECEIPTED BY USCIS no earlier than 90 days prior to and no later than 60 days from the program completion date (i.e. I-20 end date). See exceptions for students working on thesis/dissertation/final project equivalent.

**If your current I-20 end date is in a future semester, the end date will be shortened to reflect the anticipated completion at the time your OPT recommendation I-20 is issued.

  • Possible driver’s license renewal problems (in most cases, cannot renew until OPT is approved)
  • May not get the OPT dates you requested.  If the application is pending past your requested start date, USCIS should still give the entire period you are eligible from the date the application is approved.
  • However, depending on how late you apply, you may not get the full 12 months that you were initially eligible for due to the typical 2~3 month processing time.  By law, post-completion OPT must end by the 14th month after your program end date, so if the OPT period goes beyond that mark due to late adjudication, the OPT end date will be cut short to the 14th month mark.
  • Possible late rejection of application. By the time you find out that it was rejected and try to reapply, you may be ineligible due to being past 60-days from I-20 end date.

How to Apply for OPT 

   Download Printable Checklist

Step 1 Know your stuff!!
  • Understand what OPT is!  Are you eligible?  When can you apply?
  • For various OPT topics, videos, samples and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) , visit our OPT page.
Step 2 Download, print & complete forms
Step 3 Make an OPT appointment at ISS


  • Academic Advisor’s Recommendation - ALL fields must be completed.
  • I-765  – Completed to the best of your ability
  • Responsibilities While on Post-Comp OPT (if applicable) – signed
Step 4 Come prepared to your ISS OPT appointment
  • ISS advisor verifies your F-1 status and creates a new OPT I-20
  • If applicable, the advisor shortens your program end date in SEVIS and on your new I-20.


Completed Forms (see above):

  • Academic Advisor’s Recommendation form
  • I-765 form
  • G-1145 form (optional), for email/text message notification of application receipt
  • Responsibilities While on Post-Comp OPT form

Original Documents:


  • Passport ID page(s), visa and I-94
  • Previously issued EADs (Employment Authorization Document), if any
  • Previously issued I-20’s for CPT or OPT received through a school other than KU, if any

Also bring for a complete application:

Step 5 Mail your complete application to USCIS

    DO NOT file yet if you have not been issued an OPT Recommendation I-20!!

  • Mail the OPT application to USCIS and be receipted within 30 days of the ISS advisor’s recommendation
  • USCIS must also receive the application prior to the 60th day after your I-20/program completion date.
  • Assemble and fasten the application materials together in the order listed below.
  • Mail the application in a verifiable manner (such as certified mail with proof of delivery receipt).
  • Students using a Kansas address should send their application to Arizona
    • Note: It will be forwarded and processed in Nebraska:

 For US Postal Service

PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036


For non-US Postal Service (ex. FedEx, UPS, etc):

1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034


  1. $410 - U.S. check or money order made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (See Example)
  2. 2 passport style photographs taken within 30 days of filing your application and should not have been used for anything else.
    1. gently print name on the back, without damaging the photo
    2. place the photos in a clear plastic ‘ziploc’ sandwich bag, if possible
    3. do NOT put a staple through the photo or trim the size of the photo
  3. G-1145 (optional)
  4. I-765 original, signed in blue ink
  5. New OPT I-20 photocopy, signed by the ISS advisor on pages 1 & 2, AND signed by student on page 1.  You keep the original I-20.
  6. Screen shots from SEVIS showing any previous CPT or OPT (if applicable)
  7. Electronic I-94 printout or Photocopy of Paper I-94 front and back
  8. Visa photocopy, most recently used when last entering the U.S.
  9. Passport page photocopy showing your name, photo and date of birth
  10. Photocopies of all previously issued EADs, if any
  11. Photocopies of I-20s reflecting previous CPT authorizations and previous OPT recommendations through schools other than KU, if applicable

You should keep copies of all documents sent to and received from USCIS.

Tips for Preparing OPT App Documents

          What is OPT?            I've Applied, Now What?  

STEM OPT Extension  H-1B Cap Gap OPT Extension

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