Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is OPT?

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) is off-campus employment authorization in a student’s field of study for twelve months after completion of the academic program.

  • Students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors may also be eligible for an additional 24-month extension for OPT. More information on the 24-month STEM Extension and application procedures.

Eligibility

  • The student must be in valid F-1 status at the time of application and have been in full-time status for one academic year preceding the application.

  • The student must be in the final semester of their academic program (unless applying for pre-completion OPT).

  • The student must have no holds on their student record and no balance owed to the university

  • The student must have attended an employment workshop within the last year.

  • The student must not have been approved for OPT for the same or higher education level.

  • Students in the STEM fields who wish to apply for the 24-month OPT extension have additional eligibility requirements. Please scroll down below to see more information on STEM extensions.

How to Apply for OPT

  1. Attend an in-person employment workshop provided at the SEVIS Compliance Office.

  2. If you cannot attend in person, ask an the SEVIS Compliance Office advisor for an information via email at SEVIS@kennesaw.edu

  3. Complete the online Eliademy OPT Training Certificate

  4. Prepare your application and visit the SEVIS Compliance Office during advising hours with the following items:
    • Completed USCIS Form I-765
    • Signed Form I-765. Failure by the student to sign form I-765 is the #1 reason an application is returned or rejected.   
    • Two (2) passport-style photos. NOTE: PHOTOS MUST MEET U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE SPECIFICATIONS
    • Personal check (recommended) or U.S. money order for $410 made out to Department of Homeland Security
    • Photocopy of passport biographical information (showing passport expiration date & photo)
    • Photocopy of F-1 Visa
    • Photocopy of Change of Status I-797 receipt if you changed status to F-1 inside the U.S. (if applicable)
    • Photocopy of I-94-front and back (dark enough to show the red stamp on the front of it)
    • Photocopy of Full Time CPT I-20s (if applicable)
    • Photocopy of previous EAD cards (if applicable)
    • Obtain a USPS (light cardboard) Priority Shipping envelope from the Post Office
    • Job offer letter (optional)
  5. Your advisor will review your request and issue two new I-20s with the OPT recommendation (one for your personal record, and one to be signed and mailed with your application). This will require an in-person appointment.

  6. Mail all application materials with new signed I-20 with OPT recommendation to USCIS. For mailing addresses see below.


Mailing Address

Did you sign your form I-765? If not, it will be rejected.

  • Regular U.S. Postal Service Delivery:  U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), P.O. Box 660867, Dallas, Texas 75266

  • Express Mail Delivery with Tracking (e.g. Federal Express): U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), ATTN: AOS, 2501 S. State Highway 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, Texas 75067

When to Apply

The earliest you can apply is 90 days before completion of studies and the latest you can apply is 60 days after completion of studies. the SEVIS Compliance Office strongly recommends you apply three months prior to your requested start date to ensure timely processing of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You do NOT have to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT.


Driver’s License and Renewal on OPT

Please note that after your I-20 ends (your graduation date) you can not renew your driver’s license until you have an approved OPT, have received the EAD card, and the EAD start date has passed. Therefore, you may have a gap where you are not able to drive after graduation. Please plan in advance. If your I-20 is in need of program shortening, you may want to consider renewing your driver's license first if possible.


Processing Times and Application Status

  • Mail your signed I-20 with OPT endorsement request and other application materials to USCIS.

  • Once received by USCIS, processing time is 3 months.

  • You can check the status of your case online when the SEVIS Compliance Office receives the application receipt (Notice of Action) from USCIS approximately two weeks after applying. Use the SRC number located on the upper left hand side of the document to check your status online at the USCIS website.

  • If more than 90 days past the RECEIPT date on your Notice of Action Form with no adjudication of your application by USCIS, consult an the SEVIS Compliance Office international student advisor. Please note that your OPT application CANNOT BE EXPEDITED. Students may not begin working without receiving the official EAD Card by mail.

During OPT

After securing employment, you are required to report your employment information to the SEVIS Compliance Office by submitting an OPT Employer Report. You must provide all requested information in the OPT Employment Report.  Additionally, you must report any changes in employment within 10 days of the change by submitting a new OPT Employment Report. Students on the 24-Month STEM Extension are required to submit an OPT STEM Employment Report every six months. If you have exceeded your unemployment limit while on OPT, please contact a SEVIS Compliance Office advisor.

For additional questions visit Optional Practical Training FAQ.


Report OPT Employment

If you are currently on post-completion OPT or the OPT STEM Extension, you are required to report employment and changes in employment within 10 days. Failure to comply with this requirement puts your current and future immigration status at risk. To report employment, please contact the SEVIS Compliance Office via email at SEVIS@kennesaw.edu.


My OPT Responsibilities

All students approved for OPT should read The rules and responsibilities of OPT to make sure they understand their requirements.

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