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  4. Updated Tip Sheet for F-1 Students Seeking OPT

Updated Tip Sheet for F-1 Students Seeking Optional Practical Training

Release Date: September 18, 2023

In response to feedback from stakeholders, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) has released an updated tip sheet on How F-1 Students Seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) Can Avoid Form I-765 Delays. These tips can help students avoid delays with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Key points in the updated tip sheet

  • Check USCIS' website for updates before you submit your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
  • Make sure Form I-20, Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, is signed, dated, and endorsed for the correct type of employment authorization.
  • Apply online.
  • Updated: Submit your Form I-765 within 30 days (post-completion OPT) or 60 days (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) OPT) after your designated school official (DSO) enters the recommendation for OPT into your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record.
    • Students should ask their DSO for the date the DSO entered the recommendation into SEVIS.
    • The Date Issued on Form I-20 may be different from the date the recommendation was entered in your SEVIS record.
  • Submit a properly completed Form I-20 together with Form I-765 at the same time.
  • If you move, update your mailing address with both USCIS through its How to Change Your Address page and the U.S. Postal Service through its Official USPS Change-of-Address page.

If you are a DSO

This tip sheet is meant for F-1 students. If you are a DSO, please note that the Form I-20 may not list the date you enter the OPT or STEM OPT recommendation into SEVIS but will list the date that you print the Form I-20. To help your F-1 students know what date you entered the recommendation into SEVIS, we recommend that you enter your recommendation into SEVIS and print the Form I-20 on the same day.

Why we updated the tip sheet

When we first posted the tip sheet in May, we recommended that students submit their Form I-765 within 30 days of the date listed by the DSO in the Date Issued section on Form I-20 (or within 60 days for STEM OPT). The Date Issued section on Form I-20 contains the only date visible to the student.

Based on feedback from stakeholders, we worked with USCIS to determine the best way to advise students on the OPT process. According to regulation, students should submit their Form I-765 within 30 days (post-completion OPT) or 60 days (STEM OPT) after the date the DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into their SEVIS record. However, only the DSO, not the student, can see this date, so the DSO should provide the date to the student.

We appreciate stakeholders bringing issues like this to our attention and encourage you to continue to do so in the future.

More information

View USCIS’ Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students page for further guidance.

The CIS Ombudsman is committed to helping DSOs, F-1 students, and other stakeholders address concerns related to the OPT and STEM OPT process. In August 2022, we hosted a webinar on international student issues, and you can find follow-up questions and answers on our Interagency Engagement on International Student Issues page. We continue to meet with stakeholders on this topic and to relay their feedback to USCIS, and we will develop additional resources as the need arises.

Last Updated: 09/18/2023
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