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Optional Practical Training (OPT) gives F-1 international students the ability to work for a year or more after graduation in a job or internship related to their major. OPT allows SCU's international alumni to take their education to the next level by gaining practical training and experience in their field.

OPT Process at SCU

You Must Get a NEW I-20 From ISS To File for OPT

In order to file for OPT, you must have a new I-20 with an OPT recommendation on page 2. If you file your online OPT application without this new I-20, your application will be denied and you may not be allowed to refile.

Introduction to OPT at SCU

Are you an international student who will be graduating soon? Are you interested in staying in the U.S. after graduation to gain practical experience or hands-on training? We recommend watching the Introduction to OPT at SCU video 4-6 months before graduation to learn about the rules and processes to gain experience in your field after graduation using Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Post-Graduation Immigration Options

Introduction to OPT at SCU

OPT Timing Considerations

OPT Filing Timeline

We recommend that students begin their OPT application about 4 months before graduation. You do not need a job lined up to apply for OPT. You can submit your OPT application no more than 90 days before your program end date.


Request Your New OPT I-20

It is critical that your get a new I-20 with an OPT recommendation on page 2 before you submit your online application to USCIS. To request your new OPT I-20, you will submit an OPT I-20 Request to the International Students and Scholars team for processing. We answer common questions below:

The "Requested OPT Dates" you list on your OPT I-20 Request Form will be the dates that we recommend your OPT EAD card is valid (and therefore you are allowed to work). We have created a brief video that explains the OPT timeline and how to pick dates that will work best for your situation:

 Watch this video to learn about OPT timing considerations.


Please ensure that your OPT I-20 Request Form is properly completed and signed prior to submission with ISS.

This form verifies that you are completing your degree. If you are not completely sure that you will be completing your degree, please speak with an ISS Advisor prior to applying for OPT.

Who signs the OPT I-20 Request?

  • Undergraduate Students: Drahmann Center
  • Graduate Engineering: Your Academic Advisor (or department chair, if advisor is unavailable)
  • Graduate Business: MS Programs ( or MBA (
  • Graduate Education and Counseling Psychology: Student Services
  • Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries (GPPM): Program Director
  • Law School: Law Student Services
  • Jesuit School of Theology (JST): Your program director (not your thesis or academic advisor)

PLEASE NOTE: This form is for your SCU ISS file and should not be submitted to USCIS with your OPT application.


We will accept verified electronic signatures on all ISS forms, including the OPT I-20 Request.

If you opt for the electronic signature, the signature must have a verification mark or be a signature. Typed signatures or signatures with a typed appearance are not accepted. Programs such as DocuSign or Adobe Sign have this feature.

An example:

Once you have the required signatures on your OPT I-20 Request, you will submit it to via email.

Your email must include:

Once we receive your properly signed OPT I-20 Request Form, it will take our team 2 full business days to process the request and create your new I-20. Business days are Monday to Friday, and do not include university holidays.

Once our team creates your new I-20 showing the OPT recommendation on page 2, we will email you and give you the option to either collect the I-20 from our office during our document pick-up hours, or pay to have it shipped to you.

You must have this new OPT I-20 in order to file your online OPT application. If you file the application without an OPT I-20 the application will be denied and it may be too late to re-apply.


Submit Your Online OPT Application to USCIS

Once you have your new I-20 showing the OPT recommendation on page 2, you can prepare and file your OPT application. This application is submitted via USCIS online filing system. 

First you will need to create a USCIS Online Account. Once you have your USCIS Online Account, you will be able to prepare your online application (Form I-765), upload evidence, and pay your filing fees online.

We have a detailed video walk-through below:

We recommend that you collect all required documents before you log in to the USCIS online system. You can save them in a folder on your computer. Be sure to label the documents clearly and follow the size, format, and labeling guidelines below.

During the Online OPT Application Process, you will be asked to upload evidence to support your application, this includes electronic copies of the following documents:

(as listed in online filing system)
2 x 2 photo of you Upload your Passport Photo
See “Photo Requirements” in the online filing system.
U.S. Department of State photo requirements
U.S. Department of State Photo Check Tool
Form I-94 Upload your most recent I-94
Access your most recent I-94
Employment Authorization Document Upload your valid passport biographical page
Previously authorized CPT or OPT Upload any I-20s showing CPT permission
Upload any prior EAD cards
If you have not previously done OPT or CPT, you can leave this blank.
Form I-20 Upload all 3 pages of your New I-20 (showing OPT recommendation on page 2)
Make sure to sign the I-20 on page 1
You do not need to include other prior I-20s here

Filling Out the Form- Format Requirements:

  • Photos must be: JPG, JPEG, or PNG
  • Documents must be: JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, or TIFF
  • Foreign language documents must have English translation
  • Maximum size: 6MB per file
  • Not Allowed: foreign characters (Æ, ñ, ق, 国), .doc files, .bmp files, special characters (#, @, $, &)


In order to submit your OPT application online, you will need to create a USCIS account on the USCIS website.

You will need to provide your email address to create an account. Do not use your SCU email address, as this will be deactivated after graduation.


The final step in the online filing system is submitting your filing fee. 

This can be paid via ACH (bank transfer) or via debit/credit card (drawn on a U.S. account).

This does not need to be your personal bank account, debit, or credit card (it's okay to use that of a family member or friend).

The money is withdrawn immediately.

Once you submit the payment, you have submitted the application and are not able to go back and edit anything.


Once your case has been submitted:


Once your application is approved:

  • You will receive an approval notice and your official OPT EAD Card in the mail
  • Check for typos or errors
  • Report your OPT approval
  • Review your reporting obligations while on OPT and ensure you meet these ongoing reporting requirements
  • Do not exceed 90 total days of unemployment. Unemployment days are counted as calendar days and are calculated from the day that you stop working to the day that you start a new job. Students are responsible for keeping track of their own unemployment days
  • Once your card becomes valid, you will get an email invitation to set up an SEVP Portal login (this is not required)
  • If you are eligible, you should apply for a STEM OPT Extension about 90 days before your OPT end date


OPT Reporting Obligations

If you have questions after reviewing the reporting obligation details, contact ISS.

When the report is due: within 10 days of any change to your contact information

What you must keep up to date: all contact information, including U.S. residential address, U.S. phone number, foreign phone number, and preferred email address

How to report: login to Workday and update your contact information


When the report is due: once you get your OPT EAD card in the mail.

What you will be asked to report: an copy of your OPT EAD Card, name of your company, company address, start date of employment, hours per week, and how how this job relates to your degree.

How to report: visit to submit all OPT reports


When the report is due: once you get your OPT EAD card in the mail.

What you will be asked to report: a copy of your OPT EAD Card.

How to report: visit to submit all OPT reports

Remember to return to the reporting portal to submit an OPT Approval (WITH employment) report once you find an employer.

When the report is due: within 10 days of your change of employment

What you will be asked to report:

  • Name of your prior company, the end date of employment
  • Name of your new company, company address, start date of employment, hours per week, and how how this job relates to your degree.

How to report: visit to submit all OPT reports

When the report is due: within 10 days of your last day at work

What you will be asked to report: Name of your prior company, the end date of employment.

How to report: visit to submit all OPT reports

Questions About OPT?

If you still have questions about OPT after reviewing the website and our workshop videos, please email or schedule an advising appointment.


US immigration regulations are complex and change frequently. The University strives to maintain a website that is both current and helpful, however, Santa Clara University is not responsible for students maintaining lawful immigration status; this is the responsibility of the student. Further, resources and links do not constitute endorsement by Santa Clara University.

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