OPT Authorization (Archive)

Post-Graduation Work Authorization for F-1 Students

OPT stands for Optional Practical Training and is a benefit of the F-1 student visa. OPT is work authorization for F-1 students after graduation. Students are eligible to apply for OPT the semester that they will graduate. OPT allows 1 year (up to 3 years for STEM) work authorization anywhere within the US after graduation but only within the student’s field of study/major.

Learn more below:

View an OPT Info Session!
OPT Info Session Sept 18

OPT Regulations

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment opportunity for F-1 students, available after the completion of each degree level – BS, MS, PhD.
  • Students wishing to take advantage of OPT work authorization, must apply.
  • Employment should be in the field of study. In addition to a full time position, part-time work and/or internship opportunities are also permitted.
  • Students must obtain employment 90 days after their OPT start date (the date chosen for their I-20). Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during OPT.
  • OPT is for 12 months, with a possible 24 month extension for STEM students.
  • STEM extensions should be filed 120 days before OPT ends.
  • Students MUST attend a GVSU OPT Processing Event to apply for OPT. 
  • GVSU strongly discourages students from applying electronically through USCIS.
  • Students may travel while on OPT. They must have a signed I-20, valid passport, F-1 visa, I-94, and a job offer to re-enter the U.S.
  • OPT applications typically take 3 months to process though 120 days is the time allotted.


What can I expect after my application is submitted?

  • First, students will receive a receipt letter with a reference number. This receipt will enable you to track your application status online.
  • After the OPT application has been submitted students SHOULD NOT leave the U.S. until they receive their OPT card. Students who have to leave will forfeit their application and will need to re-apply.
  • All students on OPT are required to report to the Director of International Student and Scholar Services within 10 days of:
    • Any change in name or address
    • The name and address of their employer
    • Any change to the name and address of the employer
    • Any interruption of employment (laid off dates)
  • Students on OPT are reported to USCIS by GVSU.
  • Students on OPT are eligible to take classes at any institution in the U.S. as long as they are also working.
  • If a student has concluded their OPT status, and is pursuing another degree, they must contact PIC so that PIC may transfer their SEVIS record.
  • Students on OPT are required to complete tax forms by April 15th.
  • Students interested in the H-1 process should attend the Legal Seminar on working after graduation hosted each semester by the Padnos International Center.

OPT Application

The Padnos International Center's International Student Services (ISS) hosts an OPT Processing Event four times a year:

  • September (Fall graduates)
  • January (Winter graduates)
  • March (Spring graduates)
  • May (Summer graduates)

Follow our 8 step application process detailed below to compile your own OPT application.

Please DO NOT submit your OPT application electronically to USCIS until further notice.  Mail your documents.

Questions? Contact GVSU's ISS Team at [email protected]

Current Application Term: December 2023 Graduates

For students Graduating in December 2023 (July), a live Zoom session will held on Monday, September 18, 1-2 PM. The link was/will be provided to enrolled iStudents in the September ISS Newsletter. Below are the materials from this session which you can reference at any time:

OPT Info Session Slides


Fall OPT Request Form  Spring OPT Request Form   Summer OPT Request Form  Winter OPT Request Form

Submit the appropriate request form linked above. Your requested start date is critical! This is used to create your OPT Request I-20 and considered by immigration when approving your OPT work authorizations.

Photos get 2 color passport photos made. They are available for purchase at Walgreens. Optional: You can lightly write your first and last name on pencil on the reverse side in case your photos are separated from your application while processing.

$520 check made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security

This can be:

  • personal check
  • money order (Meijer's customer service desk, bring $410 cash)
  • Sample Money Order

Complete the following forms on a computer--we DO NOT recommend filling them out by hand:

  • G-1145
  • I-765
    • original signature required!  
    • print one-sided for your application to USCIS
    • Sample I765 Form

Both forms may be found at: www.uscis.gov 

Make color photocopies of the following to submit to USCIS, making sure all documents are single-sided (no double-sided copies):

  • passport photo page
  • visa stamp
  • I-94 (may be found at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov)
  • previous EAD (if applicable)
  • previous I-20s

Arrange all your prepared documents in this order (from top to bottom):

  • Passport Photos
  • Check
  • G-1145
  • I-765
  • Copy of passport photo page
  • Copy of visa stamp
  • I-94
  • Copy of previous EAD (if applicable)
  • Copy of new I-20 endorsed for OPT
  • Copies of I-20 Previous I-20s (newest to oldest)

You can use one paper clip or binder clip to keep all the papers together. Please do not use multiple clips and never use staples for immigration applications.

Depending on your carrier of choice, you will send your OPT application to one of the addresses below. Pay special attention that you are choosing the correct one. Please do not submit your OPT application electronically to USCIS until further notice.  Mail your documents.

Regardless of carrier we HIGHLY recommend paying for tracking so you know when your documents arrive to USCIS. 


P.O. Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

Via FedEx, DHL, or UPS:

USCIS Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn
3rd Floor
Chicago, IL, 60603-5517

This I-20 created for you in step 2 is only valid for OPT Request for 30 days from the date it was issued. Please make sure to apply before the 30 day window expires or your application will be rejected.

OPT Employment Reporting

Report your OPT Employment

Please report your OPT Employment on the GVSU OPT Portal found here. 

Page last modified April 12, 2024