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Post-Grad Employment for F-1 Students/Alumni (OPT)

ISS & Immigration Updates Related to COVID-19

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

During COVID-19 / Shelter In Place OPT appointments will be held via Zoom. To prepare for your OPT appointment please take these steps:
  1. Using your SCU google accountcreate a Google Drive folder.
    • The name of the folder should be your full legal name and OPT application (e.g. Brockmeyer, Sarah OPT Application).
  2. In the folder upload copies of the following documents:
    • Signed Degree Completion / OPT Request form
    • Check
    • 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).
  3. This folder must be shared with (do not send the email notification that you've shared the folder).
  4. Once you've set-up your shared google folder, you may schedule your appointment.

OPT Appointments

  • 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. 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

  1. Attend or watch an OPT workshop
  2. Complete and sign your OPT I-20 Request
  3. Prepare your OPT Application Package
  4. Schedule and attend your OPT appointment
  5. Collect your new I-20 from our office
  6. Mail your application to USCIS

OPT Workshop

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: 

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.

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.

The cover letter serves as a checklist to help you put your application in order. It also has the address where you will mail your application.

Template OPT Cover Letter (google doc)

Cover Letter FAQs

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.

Check FAQs

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)

Photo Specifications
Passport Photo FAQs

Your application must include a completed and signed Form I-765. This form must be typed except the signature which must be signed in pen.

Fillable Form I-765 (pdf)
Sample OPT I-765 Walkthrough (pdf)
Form I-765 FAQs

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.

Fillable Form G-1145 (pdf)
Form G-1145 FAQs

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). 

OPT Apt and I-20 FAQs

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

Supporting Document FAQs

OPT Appointment

You're ready to schedule an OPT Appointment if you have:

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).
  • 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.

Review our FAQs about mailing your OPT Application.

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Once your case has been mailed

  • Receive your receipt notice (delivery times vary, as of December 2020 wexpect 30-60 days)
  • 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.

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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.

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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 or visit during drop-in advising.


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

What you will be asked to report: an uploaded 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

Tips: contact if you find any errors or typos on your card

Questions? Email or visit during drop-in advising.


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

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

How to report: visit to submit all OPT reports

Tips: contact if you find any errors or typos on your card

Questions? Email or visit during drop-in advising.


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

Questions? Email or visit during drop-in advising.

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? Email or visit during drop-in advising.


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.

Can't attend a live OPT workshop? Watch our recording now!

Geminiano Yabut IV

Geminiano Yabut IV

"I’m planning to work here, hopefully for one of the tech companies in Silicon Valley.  It’s cool that Santa Clara is in the middle of the whole Silicon Valley tech scene so I think I’ll stay here for a while."


Fredrik Blomqvist

Fredrik Blomqvist

"Some days, I feel like maybe I’ll stay here in Silicon Valley or at least California, maybe go a little bit down south, you know, get a bit more sun and do that for the rest of my life.  But, other days, I think about maybe going back to Sweden, or Europe.  Maybe moving to another country. It’s a very hard decision. But I think at least the first few years, I’ll stick around and work. The first ten years will probably be around work and around my career."