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International Student Services

Post-Completion OPT


We encourage students to watch the OPT video series to learn more about the benefit of their F-1 visa.

You may also want to learn about OPT from Study in the States or USCIS.

When to Apply

You can request your I-20 from ISS as early as 90 days before program completion and as late as 40 days after you’ve completed your program. The sooner you apply, the more flexibility you have with a start date that best fits your case.

  • Graduate students can apply for post-completion OPT with thesis/dissertation remaining
  • It takes UW ISS about 3 weeks to process OPT I-20 requests.
  • It takes USCIS 90 – 150 days to process your OPT application
  • Students should refer to the academic calendar when applying for OPT.

OPT application timeline depicting 90 days between the earliest date to apply and program completion date. The latest date to apply is 60 days after the program completion date.

Determine application and other useful dates using the OPT Calculator.

OPT End Dates

OPT ends exactly 364 days, just before the 1-year date, after OPT begins. For example:

Chosen OPT Start Date OPT End Date
September 1, 2022 August 31, 2023
March 15, 2023 March 14, 2024
July 25, 2024 July 24, 2025

OPT Application Deadline to USCIS

USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days of the Date Issued on the OPT I-20. The Date Issued is located on the first page of the school attestation section next to the DSO’s signature.

How to Apply for OPT

Applying for OPT

Submit your OPT I-20 request via the MyISSS.

  1. Refer to the final year checklist page to determine if you need to also submit a final quarter reduced course load.
  2. Pay the required ISS $85 Post-Completion Training fee and save a copy of the receipt/payment confirmation.
  3. Determine your planned OPT start date. You cannot change the start date once you submit the application – choose wisely! It can be as early as the day after program completion and as late as 60 days after program completion.

Request OPT I-20 through MyISSS.

Log into MyISSS

You MUST receive approval and a signed OPT I-20 showing the OPT recommendation from your DSO BEFORE submitting your online OPT application.

NOTE: ISS will dismiss OPT I-20 requests that are submitted more than 100 days before graduation dates since they will be denied by USCIS for being submitted so early.

Check general processing times (not case-specific) at USCIS website. Select “Form I-765” and “Based on a Request by an F-1 Student.”

I-765 Guides

ISS no longer reviews I-765s for students, but we do have guides for students to use when applying with USCIS.

After Submitting Application to USCIS

RFEs, Returned, or Denied Applications

If you receive a “Request for Evidence” (RFE), returned application, or denied application, contact ISS immediately. It may be necessary for ISS to provide a new I-20 before you can respond to the USCIS inquiry or resubmit your OPT application.

Expedited Processing Not Likely

USCIS rarely expedites OPT applications. ISS cannot contact USCIS on your behalf to request expedited processing; OPT applications are between you, the applicant, and USCIS. Here is more information about the USCIS expedite criteria.

Address Changes

The only way to change the address USCIS uses for your OPT-related mail is to submit an official change of address to USCIS using their website tools. The U.S. Postal Service can’t forward official government mail (like OPT cards) to a new address. ISS will NOT allow students to use our office as a mailing address for OPT requests.

After Approval

Congratulations! Your Post-Completion OPT is approved. Now what?

  1. Set up your SEVP portal, you will get an invitation via email on your OPT start date. If you don’t receive an invitation please submit a SEVP Portal Help request via your MyISSS portal
  2. If it has been more than 10 days since you began employment, please submit a Report New Employment request.
  3. Learn the Post-completion OPT reporting requirements outlined in the following FAQs.
  4. Keep your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card in a safe place. We recommend that you do not keep this in your wallet. ISS does not need a copy of your EAD Card.
  5. Read all the information on this page about the 12-month OPT period.
OPT Considerations

All employment must be directly related to your program of study. You can work part-time, for at least 20 hours per week. There is no defined maximum of hours you may work while on Post-Completion OPT.

Multiple employers
You may work for more than one employer, all jobs combined must total 20 hours per week or more.

Short-term multiple employers (performing artists)
You may work for multiple short-term employers (gigs). You should maintain a list of all gigs, dates, and duration.

Work for hire
Sometimes called “1099 employment,” work for hire means that an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. Keep documentation showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.

Self-employed business owner
You may start a business and be self-employed, but you must be able to prove you have the proper business licenses.

Employment through an agency
You may use an agency or staffing company to find employment. You must be able to provide evidence showing that you worked at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.

Unpaid employment
You may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern, where this does not violate any labor laws. You must be able to provide evidence from the employer that you worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

What happens if your EAD Card has incorrect information on it?

  1. Wait to receive a job offer so you can show your EAD Card to your employer. The correction process may require you to mail the incorrect EAD Card to USCIS. Ideally, you should wait to request the correction after your employer has copied your EAD for hiring purposes.
  2. To correct the EAD Card, submit a request through the USCIS website to correct a typographic error.

Your EAD Card is the official document that allows you to work on OPT or STEM OPT so you should take action to get a replacement if it is lost, stolen, or destroyed. Students should file a new I-765 with USCIS, with a new filing fee, for a replacement card.

For EADs Cards lost in the mail: