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OPT ChecklistInternational Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Information

For detailed OPT information, visit OPT and attend an OPT workshop offered each semester roughly three and a half months before the end of the semester. Please check your College of The Albemarle (COA) email for workshop dates and times.

Gather the following documents before requesting an OPT appointment:

Remember your OPT application must be received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no later than 60 days after you complete your degree requirement.

Two photos: passport style (2 inch by 2 inch). Print your name lightly on the back in pencil. These will be used for your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.

Copy of student visa, passport photo page and I-94: If you don’t have an F-1 visa stamp then you’ll need a copy your I-797A approval letter

Check for $410 made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Have a local address that’s valid for the next three to five months where you can receive your EAD card. Use this address on your I-765 form.

Completed I-765 form (please type): You can also download the form at USCIS.

Please make your signature no larger than 1 inch wide by ½ inch tall and don’t cross the lines. If your signature is too large, USCIS will return your application. This signature is used on your EAD card.

Copies of any prior EAD cards (if applicable)

Recommended: Bring a brief letter from your academic advisor indicating your current academic status and expected date of completion of your program. A one- to two-sentence letter is sufficient.

Once you’ve gathered the documents listed above:

Make an appointment to see a Designated School Official (DSO) to complete the application process.

When you meet with a DSO:

Bring the documents listed above.

Know the dates you’d like your OPT to begin and end (you can request OPT to begin up to 60 days after your last day of classes/completion of your degree).

Your DSO will issue you a OPT I-20 and a letter of support. We’ll also make copies of all your documents.


Send your OPT application via express mail from the U.S. Post Office to:
PO Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

☐ About two weeks after you’ve mailed your package, you’ll receive a formal receipt from USCIS with your personal receipt or WAC number. Bring a copy of this receipt to your DSO. You may check the status of your application online anytime by visiting the website listed on the receipt: USCIS.

☐ Upon approval, you’ll receive your EAD card. Don’t start working until your receive your EAD card and the date on the card has been reached. Bring a copy of the EAD card to the DSO when you receive it. You’ll then enter your employer information in the SEVP Portal. It’s the student’s responsibility to enter their employer information in the SEVP Portal. Students who fail to enter their employer information will have their OPT and F-1 status terminated by SEVP.

Important: You’re required to continue to report changes in your address and phone number to the DSO while on OPT. You must also complete a second OPT Student Information Form six months into your OPT.

You must maintain your employment while on OPT. You’re able to be unemployed for up to 90 days.

You must keep checking your COA email for updates while on OPT.