Post-Completion Optional Practical Training is for F1 students who have met the requirements to complete their degree or they are nearing completion of degree requirements (thesis/dissertation) and would like authorization to work in their field of study. The post-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s course of study.
- An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in post-completion OPT after he/she has been enrolled for one full academic year.
- Students can apply up to 90 days before and up to 60 days after program completion.
- Students authorized to participate in post-completion OPT can work either full-time (40h/wk) or on multiple part-time jobs (minimum 20h/wk) up to 12 months.
- OPT is available after the completion of a higher degree level, i.e. BS, MS, PhD
- The post-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s course of study.
- The application process for post-completion OPT requires up to 90 days processing time by USCIS.
- Unlike pre-completion OPT, students on post-completion OPT are required to limit days of unemployment and do have reporting requirements, besides changes of mailing address.
- Students need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), with USCIS. If approved, the student will be issued an EAD card.
- The student may begin engaging in post-completion OPT only once the EAD has been issued, received; and employment must be within the authorized dates listed on the card. ISSS recommends you to choose your OPT dates accordingly.
- The starting date for the OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be the date requested by the student or the date OPT is approved at the USCIS Service Center, whichever is later.
- Post-completion OPT must be completed within 14 months of the program end date- Get further information from an ISSS advisor
- The ISSS advises students not to travel outside the U.S. while the post-completion OPT application is pending
In order to be eligible for post-completion OPT, you must meet the following criteria:
- You have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student at least one full academic year before graduation (three quarters).
- You had less than 364 days of full-time CPT at the same educational level and school
- You are currently in F-1 status.
- Attend an OPT Workshop (mandatory). The workshop provides detailed information regarding a number of topics, such as completing the application, employment reporting requirements and travel issues.
- Schedule an appointment with an advisor and submit the following documents:
- USCIS Form I-765 in blue ink
Click here for forms or download from www.uscis.gov
- OPT Adviser form with signature from academic advisor
Click here for forms
- Copy of previous EAD card (s) and corresponding I-20s or H1b I-94 approval notice (s) if you had a previous USCIS work authorization (CPT or on-campus employment not applicable)
- A check or money order for $380.00 made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (DO NOT WRITE ON THE BACK OF THE CHECK!) Your name and address must be on the check.
- Two passport style photographs taken within the last 30 days. Each photo must be cut to 2x2 inches with white background with your name and I-94 # printed lightly on the back in pencil/pen.
- Copies of:
- All I-20s (since you came in the US-from all US institutions you attended,
- Visa (photo pg)
- Passport (photo pg), (and renewal extension if is expired)
- I-94 card (front and back sides)
- Employment Offer letter (if any job offered by the time of your application)
(Note: The ISSS advisor will make copies of your documents for you)
- Once your packet is assembled you will be issued a new I-20 and you will be directed to mail the packet to USCIS via FedEx or UPS certified mailing service to the following address:
2501 S. State Highway
121 Business, Suite#400
Lewisville, TX. 75067
Types of Employment Allowed during an OPT
A student authorized for 12 month OPT must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a position directly related to his or her major.
For students who are on a post-completion OPT, this employment may include:
- Work for one or more employer. Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to each individual student's degree program
- Multiple employers. Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to each individual student's degree program and all employers must be reported to ISSS providing an offer letter.
- Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
- Self-employed business owner. Students can start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to his or her degree program.
- Employment through an agency or consulting firm. Students may be employed by an employment agency or consulting firm.
Travel during Post-Completion OPT
Travel outside the U.S. during OPT can be risky. Please consult with an ISSS advisor if you plan to travel during OPT. To re-enter the U.S. during OPT you will need the following original documents:
- Valid passport (make sure it is valid at least 6 months into the future at time of re-entry)
- Valid F-1 visa stamp
- I-20 endorsed for OPT with a travel signature less than 6 months old
- Unexpired EAD card
- Confirmation of employment letter from your U.S. employer
Ending Your post-completion OPT
Your F-1 status remains valid until 60 days after the expiration of your EAD card. During this 60-day grace period, you are no longer authorized to work, however you may legally stay in the U.S. If you depart the U.S. during the 60-day grace period, you are no longer eligible to re-enter under your previous F-1 visa status.
- If you plan to start a new degree program at another college or university, please make sure to contact the ISSS regarding the transfer of your SEVIS record. Transfers must be done before the end of the 60-day grace period.
- If you plan to change your visa status, we recommend you begin this process before your OPT is expired.
- If you plan to return home after the end of your OPT, please make sure that you depart the U.S. before the end of your 60-day grace period.
- If you are eligible to apply for 17 mo. STEM extension OPT
Employer Update- 90 day unemployment
Anytime during OPT that a student is NOT employed dates will be subtracted from the 90days of unemployment and he/she needs to keep a track of them. If the student reaches more than 90 days he/she needs to contact ISSS office to check his/her F1 SEVIS record so to confirm its activation. As soon as a new job is found (paid or unpaid/ part-time or full time) it must be entered to SEVIS so the 90 unemployment dates to be saved. In that case the student needs to provide (via email or fax) a new formal employment verification letter signed by the supervisor in the company’s letterhead that includes the following:
- Company’s name
- Mailing address (that you will physically work at)
- Hiring Date
- Position title (related to your field of your studies)