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Santa Clara University

OPT

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 lets SCU's international alumni take their education to the next level by gaining practical training and experience in their field.

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 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).

 

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 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 time line and how to pick dates that will work best for your situation.

 Watch this video to learn about OPT timing considerations.

THIS FORM MUST BE SIGNED BY YOU AND YOUR ACADEMIC PROGRAM (NOT ISS).

Please ensure that your OPT I-20 Request 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 (msprograms@scu.edu) or MBA (mba@scu.edu)
  • Graduate Education and Counseling Psychology: Student Services
  • 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 an signature. Typed signatures or signatures with a typed appearance are not accepted.  Programs such as DocuSign or Adobe Sign have this feature. Please see below for an example:

OPT applications: Your OPT I-20 and Form I-765 must be hand signed prior to mailing your OPT application to USCIS.

Once you have the required signatures on your OPT I-20 request, you will submit it to iss@scu.edu via email.

Your email must include:

  • Subject Line: OPT Request (Your Student ID#)
  • Attach your completed OPT I-20 Request

Once we receive your properly signed OPT I-20 Request, 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:

Evidence 
(as listed in online filing system)
Instructions
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 here
Employment Authorization Document Upload your valid passport biographical page
Previously authorized CPT or OPT Upload any I-20s showing CPT permission
and / or
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

 

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

You can create a USCIS account here: https://myaccount.uscis.gov/users/sign_up

To do so you will need to provide your email address (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 you submit your application you will immediately get a receipt notice in the online system
  • A receipt notice will also be mailed to you
  • You can track the status of your case online using your USCIS receipt number
  • The case will be pending for about 3-6 months
  • We recommend that you stay in the U.S. until your case has been approved
  • You can either email iss@scu.edu or schedule OPT / STEM OPT Express Advising if you have any questions

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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
  • Upload a copy of your card and report your employment to our office (this is required)
  • Continue to report employment and address changes to our office (this is required)
  • Do not exceed 90 total days of unemployment
  • 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
  • You can either email iss@scu.edu or schedule OPT / STEM OPT Express Advising if you have any questions.

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OPT Reporting Obligations

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 prefered email address

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

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule an Express OPT / STEM OPT appointment.

 

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 scu.edu/reportopt to submit all OPT reports

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule an Express OPT / STEM OPT appointment.

 

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 scu.edu/reportopt to submit all OPT reports

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule an Express OPT / STEM OPT appointment.

Remember to return to the reporting portal to submit an update 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 scu.edu/reportopt to submit all OPT reports

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule an Express OPT / STEM OPT appointment.

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 scu.edu/reportopt to submit all OPT reports

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule an Express OPT / STEM OPT 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.