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International Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Procedures for applying for Optional Practical Training


The student must do the following, and submit it to the DSO:

  1. Go on-line to the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website located at: Complete Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, marked with the following code at item 16: "(c)(3)(A)" for pre-completion OPT, "(c)(3)(B)" for post-completion OPT, and "(c)(3)(C)" for a 17-month extension for an F-1 student who has received a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM), that appears on the STEM designated Degree Program List published on the SEVP website. (Application may be completed online however, you will need to make an appointment at the local USCIS Application Support Center in Detroit or Grand Rapids in order to process the application.) 
  2. Make photocopies of all prior Forms I-20. 
  3. Write a check to the order of "Department of Homeland Security" in the amount of the fee required for Form I-765. 
  4. Obtain two ADIT style photos 
  5. Submit a copy (both sides) of Form I-94


The DSO must do the following:

  1. Verify the student's eligibility for OPT, including whether the student has been in full-time student status for at least one academic year, and the dates of prior periods of curricular and optional practical training previously granted. 
  2. Before the student's completion date is reached, update the student's SEVIS record with the required fields for recommending OPT. Required fields include:
    • Employment start date
    • Employment end date
  3. Print an I-20 in SEVIS, which will include a page reflecting the OPT recommendation.  
  4. Sign the I-20 where the DSO signature is required including page 3 of the I-20.  
  5. Make file copies 
  6. Return the endorsed I-20 to the student.


What to send where:

  1. Form I-765, completed by the student, marked with the appropriate code for pre-completion OPT, post-completion OPT or a 17-month extension for certain eligible F-1 applications at item 16 (listed in the student section above for codes); 
  2. I-765 filing fee, in a check or money order payable to the order of "Department of Homeland Security"; 
  3. 2 ADIT-style photos; 
  4. Copy of the student's Form I-20, with page 3 including the DSO recommendation for optional practical training;
    • Some Service Centers require photocopies of all prior Forms I-20 as well
  5. Copy of both sides of the student's I-94; 
  6. Copy of the ID pages from the student's passport, and, for applications for renewal of work authorization, a photocopy of the previously-issued EAD; 
  7. Send the above to the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the student's place of residence. The I-765 must be received and accepted by USCIS before the student's program completion date.


It can take up to 3 months before an answer is given, therefore, the student should begin the process well in advance of the completion of their program.

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