ISS & Immigration Updates Related to COVID-19
We know that OPT is incredibly important to SCU’s international students and it is important to ISS as well!
You must be physically present in the U.S. to file for OPT. Do not depart the U.S. until your OPT application is properly on file with USCIS.
ISS Webinar: OPT During Shelter-in-Place
- The name of the folder should be your full legal name and OPT application (e.g. Brockmeyer, Sarah OPT Application).
- Signed Degree Completion / OPT Request form
- Cover letter
- Completed Form I-765,
- Completed Form G-1145
- Copies of all supporting documents (I-20, I-94, Passport, Visa, any other immigration documents).
- DO NOT book multiple appointments (this takes appointments away from other students).
- DO NOT book an appointment until you have your entire OPT application ready for review (this wastes appointment slots).
OPT I-20 issuance during shelter-in place.
Once your I-20 has been issued (which is 1-2 days after your OPT appointment) you will get an email instructing you on how to create a mailing label. SCU will cover the mailing cost. Once your mailing label is created, we will mail your new OPT I-20 to you to include in your OPT application.
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.
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 mail your OPT application 90 days before your program end date.
OPT Process 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 you attend or review our OPT workshop 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 Application Package
You entire OPT Application Package will be reviewed by an ISS Advisor at your OPT Appointment. After your appointment, once we've issued your new OPT I-20, you will send the OPT application to USCIS for processing. Your OPT Application package should include:
Will ISS accept electronic signatures on forms?
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.
Degree Completion / OPT Request Form
Please ensure that your OPT I-20 Request is properly completed and signed prior to requesting your OPT Appointment.
This form verifies that completing your degree.
If you are not completely sure that you will be completing your degree please speak with an ISS Advisors prior to applying for OPT.
PLEASE NOTE: This form is for your SCU ISS file and should not be mailed to USCIS with your OPT application.
Check for USCIS Filing Fee
Each application must include a check for the USCIS Filing Fee. Currently, the USCIS filing fee is $410. A sample image of how to write your check is below.
2 Passport Photos
Each application must include two (2) U.S. passport photos. It is very important that these photos be exactly to U.S. passport photos specifications.
- Do not wear a white or light colored shirt to your passport photo.
- Photos must be taken within the past 30 days.
- We recommend J Photo Center (call ahead to confirm availability)
Completed Form I-765
Completed Form G-1145
The G-1145 is an optional form that grants USCIS the permission to text and email you updates about the status of your application. This form is not required, but is recommended, especially for students who are having their USCIS receipt and EAD card mailed to a friend or family member's home. This form must be typed.
New OPT I-20
After your OPT appointment, ISS will issue you a new I-20 with the recommendation for OPT. We will provide you two copies of this I-20 (one for you to keep for your records, one for you to sign and mail with your application).
Your application should include copies of all of your prior immigration documents. The documents should be black and white, single sided, and copied on 8 1/2 X 11 paper. Our office cannot make copies or print documents for you. Please prepare these prior to your appointment.
Documents you should include:
- Copies of all prior I-20s (including I-20s from prior schools)
- Print out of your current I-94
- Copies of all Passport Biographical Pages
- Copies of all U.S. visa stamps
- Copies of any prior immigration documents, such as prior EAD cards, prior I-797 approval notices
When Can You Schedule Your Appointment
You're ready to schedule an OPT Appointment if you have:
- Attended or Watched an OPT Workshop
- Collected your signed and completed Degree Completion / OPT Request Form
- Prepared your entire OPT Application
How to Schedule Your OPT Appointment
You may select one appointment slot via our OPT Appointment Calendar. Please note:
- All appointments are scheduled in Pacific Standard Time (PST), please be sure your calendar is set to PST.
- Do not book any appointment until you are 100% ready to visit our office.
- Once you book your appointment DO NOT send any email confirming the appointment (we already get calendar notification emails).
On the day of your appointment:
- Show up on time
- Bring all required documents
- Remove any staples or paperclips
- Have your documents in order according to the cover letter (put your Degree Completion form on top of the cover letter)
- I-20s: put in order from the most current to the oldest (copies only, not originals)
- Have your application materials in your hand, ready to give to the advisor, not in your backpack or folder
Mailing Your Application
Once you have your new OPT I-20 do not wait -- mail your application as soon as possible. We recommend making a copy of the entire application before mailing it to USCIS. We recommend using a traceable mail service such as FedEx.
Your OPT Application must be properly received by USCIS no more than 30 days after your new OPT I-20 is created by ISS and no more than 60 days after your program end date listed on your new OPT I-20.
Once your case has been mailed
- Receive your receipt notice (about 2 weeks after mailing)
- Check for typos (contact an ISS Advisor if there are any)
- Track the status of your case online using your USCIS receipt number
- The case will be pending for about 90 days
- Stay in the U.S. until your case has been approved
- Contact an ISS Advisor if you have any questions
- Do not contact the government directly
Review our FAQs about Pending OPT Applications.
Once your case is approved
- You will receive an approval notice and your official OPT EAD Card in the mail
- Check for typos or errors (contact ISS if you find any)
- 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 days of unemployment
- Contact ISS if you have any questions
- 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
Review our FAQs about approved OPT applications.