Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) may be authorized to an F-1 student who has lawfully enrolled in an academic program on a full-time basis for one full academic year, after the completion of the degree or after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent). Post Completion OPT is OPT authorized for employment after a student’s program end date on his/her Form I-20.
Post-Completion OPT may be requested up to 90 days prior to the program end date or up to 60 days from the end of the student’s program. OPT must be completed within a 14-month period following the completion of study.
The student seeking OPT may not begin employment until he/she has been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). Authorization to engage in OPT is automatically terminated when a student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.
While on OPT, individuals are still considered to be F-1 students at CMU although they may be working elsewhere in the United States. Students continue to be responsible for informing CMU and the Office of International Affairs of their current address until their OPT has been completed and they leave the United States. Once an employment offer has been accepted, student’s are required to notify the OIA of their employer’s name and address.
Employment requirements during the period of OPT include:
- Employment must be related to student’s field of study.
- Student’s may not accumulate more than 90 days of unemployment during the OPT period
- Non-paid employment is permitted. Student’s with internships or volunteer positions may be considered employed for OPT purposes.
- Students must report employment information to the OIA. Any changes to this information must be updated within 10 days.
OPT Application Procedure
- Make an appointment with an advisor and bring the following to the OIA:
a. A recommendation letter from student’s academic advisor or department chairperson (a sample letter can be found in the OPT application packet available in the OIA).
b. USCIS Form I-765 completed, indicating (c)(3)(B) in item 16. Do not sign and date the form until the OPT I-20s have been issued.
c. Photocopies of current and previous I-20s.
d. Photocopies of information pages of passport, visa page and Form I-94
- After reviewing the material listed above, and confirming eligibility for Post Completion OPT, the advisor will recommend the student for OPT and issue an I-20 with an OPT recommendation.
- Once receiving the I-20 with the recommendation, the student will submit the following documents to CIS:
a. Original Form I-765
b. Original I-20 with OPT recommendation.
c. Photocopies of all previous I-20s.
d. Photocopy of Form I-94, front and back.
e. Photocopy of information pages of passport and visa page.
f. Two photos meeting CIS specifications see attached examples.
g. Check or money order for $410 payable to The Department of Homeland Security.
- Mail the documents by certified mail with return receipt to the following address:
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
If using express package (FedEx, UPS) deliveries:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Please note that the OPT application packet must be received by USCIS within 30 days of issuance of the OPT I-20.
Once an application packet has been received by CIS, it may take 60-90 days to complete processing. Student’s are not allowed to begin employment until they receive the EAD in the mail. Please allow sufficient time for processing.