Applying for OPT

There are 5 main steps to completing the OPT application and reporting process.

You will need to do several things to complete many of these steps. You should review the OPT workshop (go to MyISSS to get started) for more information about any of these steps.

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1. Request an OPT Recommendation from ISSS

You are required to take and complete the ISSS OPT Online Workshop. Go to MyISSS to get started. 

ISSS must recommend your OPT. We recommend OPT by issuing a new I-20 to you.

To request your new I-20, you must log in to MyISSS and submit the following items:

  1. Completion e-mail from Training Hub. You will receive this email only after you successfully complete the required ISSS OPT Online Workshop.
  2. Completed OPT Request e-form 

ISSS takes 10 business days to issue a new I-20.

During COVID-19, ISSS sends you the original I-20 with the OPT recommendation on it.

When you complete the OPT Request in MyISSS, you will choose one of the following options to receive your OPT I-20:

  • Express Mail: You must follow E-Ship Global instructions and pay the express mailing fee. ISSS will send you a paper I-20.
  • Email: There is no fee. ISSS will send you an electronic I-20. Through spring 2022, the Department of Homeland Security is allowing universities to issue electronic versions of the form I-20.

Please note: ISSS will not reprint and resend your I-20 until you have waited 2 weeks for your document to arrive. If your I-20 does not arrive after 2 weeks, we will not resend by regular U.S. mail to the same address. You will need to either: 1) Sign up for express mail service through eShip Global or 2) Have your reprinted I-20 sent by regular mail to the address of a friend or family member who can receive it on your behalf. 

2. Assemble the OPT Application Materials

While you are waiting for ISSS to issue your OPT Recommendation I-20 (Step 1), you should assemble the other materials that are necessary for the application you will send to USCIS (Step 3).

Assemble these materials in the following order:

  1. Have $410 available in your U.S. bank account or U.S. credit card.
  2. One passport-style color photo (jpg, jpeg, or png, maximum size 6MB) taken within 30 days of filing your application. You can get a passport-style photo at the UMN Passport Office in the University International Center (331 17th Ave SE).
  3. Most recent electronic I-94.
  4. Biographical page of your passport.
  5. Electronic copies of all previous I-20s.
  6. The new I-20 with OPT recommendation that ISSS will send you after you sign it.

Keep a copy (digital or paper) of all of these documents for your records.

3. Submit Your OPT Application to USCIS (Online or Through Mail)

It is your responsibility to mail your OPT application to USCIS. 

USCIS must receive your OPT application no later than 30 days after the "date issued" on your OPT I-20. USCIS will deny an application it it is received after this date.

You can choose whether to submit your documents online (Option 1) or by mail (Option 2).

Option 1: Submit Your Application Online

To do this you must:

  1. Create your myUSCIS online account and log into your myUSCIS account. 
  2. Complete the online I-765 (follow the directions given in myUSCIS). You should complete all pages of Form I-765 online and keep a copy for your records. When asked, your eligibility category is c (3)(B) Student Post-Completion OPT. 
  3. Upload all of the documents that were listed in in Step 2. For your new I-20, you should sign it and upload pages 1 and 2.
  4. Pay the $410 fee. 

After your payment is accepted, you will be redirected to a confirmation screen which will include your receipt number. You should keep a copy of your receipt number for your records. You can track the status of your OPT application through your myUSCIS online account. 

Once it is submitted, USCIS will communicate with you through your myUSCIS account. You will receive notifications at the mobile number and/or email address you entered in your online I-765.

Option 2: Mail Your OPT Application to the Appropriate USCIS Address

To this you must:

  1. Complete a paper version of the I-765. To ensure you do it properly, you should review the ISSS instructions for the paper I-765.
  2. Mail the I-765 and the assembled materials to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. You should send them as certified or express mail so you can track your package.
  • For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
    USCIS
    PO Box 805373
    Chicago, IL 60680
  • For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
    USCIS
    Attn: I-765 C03
    131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
    Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Several weeks after you apply, you should receive a Receipt Notice (Form I-797) in the mail from USCIS. If you submitted Form G-1145 E-Notification, you will receive a text message or email within a few days after USCIS receives your application.

4. Wait for EAD to Be Mailed to You

The points below answer the most frequently asked questions students ask ISSS while waiting for their EAD card. If you still have questions after reading these points, contact ISSS to speak with an advisor.

  • In fall 2021, it is currently taking 3.5 to 4 months for USCIS to process your OPT application and mail your EAD to the address you entered on Form I-765. 
  • To find current processing times for I-765 applications, go to z.umn.edu/usciscase. Under "Form" select I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. Under "Field Office or Service Center" select Potomac Service Center. You can also call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
  • If there is a question about your OPT application, USCIS will mail a Request for Evidence to you. If this happens to you, contact ISSS so we can help you.
  • If you change your address while your OPT application is still pendingclick here to submit the changes on the USCIS website. You must also include your current phone number.
  • You may not begin working until you have received your EAD card and the start date is current. This is true even if the start date you requested has passed and you have not received the EAD card yet.
  • You may not continue any on-campus employment after the completion date in block 3 of your OPT I-20, even if you have not yet completed your degree. Any on- or off-campus employment after this completion date must be with OPT authorization and with your EAD card.
  • The EAD card will show the dates of your employment authorization:
    Valid From = start; Card Expires = end

5. Fulfill Your OPT Reporting Requirements

It is essential that you fulfill your OPT Reporting requirements.

Last updated: September 13, 2021