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Post Completion OPT

Working on Campus After Graduation

You may ONLY work on campus after your program end date (graduation) with authorization for post-completion Optional Practical Training.  Your on-campus work must meet the requirements for Optional Practical Training, described below.  Please inform potential supervisors of your status and provide them with evidence of OPT authorization. 

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training

Please familiarize yourself with the OPT Application Process. You MUST meet with the International Student Advisor PRIOR to applying for OPT.  Bring the completed OPT Intent Form with you, as well as completed application.  The SEVP provides a convenient checklist of requirements for OPT applications.   If you are an alum seeking to apply for an extension of OPT under the 2008 Interim Rule, you may MAIL or FAX (315-859-4077) the STEM extension request form to the associate dean of students for multicultural and accessibility services.

Optional Practical Training for up to twelve months is available to all students who have been in lawful status as a full-time student for one full academic year. If you have used OPT prior to graduation, the time used is deducted from the 12 month allocation. You must begin practical training no later than 60 days after your completion date. You are entitled to a 60 day grace period once the end of your OPT has been reached.  TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE US WHILE THE OPT APPLICATION IS PENDING IS NOT ADVISABLE.  Please take this into account when planning your application.

You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT and you may change jobs while on OPT. However, there are some important caveats:

  • Your employment must be directly related to your field of study and commensurate with your educational level
  • You may not accrue more than 90 days of aggregate unemployment
  • You may only work during the authorized dates, specified on the EAD card you will receive
  • You must comply with reporting requirements to maintain valid F-1 status, and will be asked to sign an acknowledgement form showing that you understand these requirements

Approval of OPT is expected to take as much as 90 days, and you may apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days in advance of your graduation (completion) date. You may apply during your grace period as well, but the application must be received by the adjudicators prior to the end of the grace period. YOU MUST REMAIN IN THE US IN ORDER TO APPLY DURING THE GRACE PERIOD.  Students who leave the country during the grace period lose their F1 status.  You may not begin employment until you have RECEIVED the EAD card authorizing it, so you should allow ample time for your application to be processed.

Application materials include:

  • Form I-765
  • Copies of all prior I-20s
  • Copy of a new, OPT-authorization I-20 (issued by the international student office)
  • Copies of your passport information page, I-94, and visa
  • A check or money order for the processing fee ($410 as of 01/04/2017)
  • Two passport-sized photos

Do NOT mail an OPT application without consulting the international student advisor! Doing so is likely to result in errors and delays in processing.

Follow Up Your Application

Follow the mailing instructions you will receive when you get your I-20 with OPT authorization, including the suggestion to mail with a "return receipt," such as certified mail.

If you do not receive a receipt with an "EAC" number within one month of mailing your complete application, notify the international student office.

When you receive your EAC, check to be sure that all information printed on the form is correct.  If anything is incorrect, contact the USCIS customer service office at 1-800-375-5283.  Have your EAC number ready and be prepared to hold.

The status of a pending application may be checked through the USCIS tracking service.

Reporting Requirements During Post-Completion OPT

Within 10 Days of the Following Changes
  • Change of name
  • Change of address (residential or mailing)
  • Change of employer
  • Change of employer contact information
  • Termination of employment

Students caught in the H-1B Cap Gap may also automatically extend their OPT if their H-1B application is approved.  You may also find information regarding H-1B visas for 2017 at the USCIS H-1B visa site.  Current students should carefully read the H-1B certification policy.

Contact Information

Allen Harrison

Assistant Dean for International Students and Accessibility
Elihu Root House
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