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Applying for OPT

To be eligible for OPT, students must be enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year, be physically present in the United States, be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of application, and intend to work or volunteer in a professional development opportunity directly related to the major field of study. Applying for OPT involves the following steps:

1. Determine when you can apply.

Graduating students can file their OPT application with USCIS no earlier than 90 days prior to the program end date.  They must file no later than 60 days after the program end date. For post-completion OPT, consult the OPT Application Timeline for guidance. 

2. Review the OPT Application Checklist for a list of the documents needed to apply and links to the required forms. 

Complete the OPT application forms and collect all required documents, including the Lasell OPT Recommendation Form. Watch the OPT Application Guide Tutorial below for detailed step-by-step instructions on completing forms and applying for OPT (paper format).

3. Meet with an advisor at the Office of International Services to hand in your OPT application.

The advisor will review your application materials and issue a new form I-20 recommending OPT. Contact when your OPT application is ready for review or if you have questions about applying for OPT.

4. Mail your OPT application to USCIS, including a copy of the new I-20. If using the online I-765 form you will skip this step by submitting the materials online.

For further instructions on mailing your application to USCIS, watch the OPT Tutorial: Mailing your Appplication to USCIS below.

OPT application processing with USCIS can take up to 90 days.  Once you receive your OPT card (EAD) and have reached your start date as noted on the EAD, you are eligible to begin working.

5. Once approved for OPT, report your address, employer address and any change of employment to the Office of International Services.

All students authorized for Post-completion OPT must review and follow the instructions on the Reporting Responsibilities on OPT page. 

Additional Resources:

Sample OPT Cover Letter