F-1 Optional Practical Training
Information and Procedures
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is intended to provide hands-on practical experience complementary to the academic program. Students on practical training are still considered to be F-1 students at the University of Nevada, Reno, even though they may be working elsewhere in the United States. A student does not need to have a specific job offer to make the application, but they do need a signature showing support from their academic advisor for the OPT. Students must have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before employment may legally begin.
Students may apply for OPT after being a full-time student for at least 1 academic year. You can apply for either Pre-Completion (part-time OPT, less than 20 hrs/week) before program completion or full-time Post-Completion OPT (at least 20 hrs/week), after program completion. Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT per higher education level. Using pre-completion OPT reduces time from post-completion OPT authorization. Regulations allow students graduating from STEM fields to apply for up 12 months of OPT and then apply for a 17 month extension totaling 29 months of OPT; the extension may only be used once. Non-stem majors have a total of 12 months full-time Optional Practical Training which can be utilized with flexibility. If training or employment will be longer than 12 months or 29 months for STEM majors, students should consider applying for a change of their status during the period of practical training.
Students are permitted 90 days of unemployment while on 12 month OPT. In order to show proof of your employment, OISS recommends you:
- Keep a copy of your official job offer letter stating the position title and description, start and end (if known) dates of employment and number of hours worked per week, even if you are volunteering
- Keep all your paystubs if you will be getting paid
- Maintain medical insurance coverage.
NOTE: Due to lengthy processing time at the USCIS, we advise that you apply for practical training up to 90 days before you need it. The earliest date that you may apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training is 90 days before program completion and the latest is 60 days after program completion. Students may not begin employment on OPT until they receive approval and the EAD card start date is effective.
Step 1: In order to apply for Optional Practical Training, you must first bring the following to the OISS:
- OPT Form with the optional practical training recommendation completed by your academic advisor
- Completed Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
- *Personal check or money order for the filing fee payment of $38000 (three hundred and eighty) payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security with "OPT filing fee" in the memo line
- Two identical passport photos (2" x 2") taken within 30 days of filing your application with your name and I-94 number written on the back of the photos in a small envelope.
- Copies of the bio page of your current passport (include extension page if applicable), current visa and front and back of your I-94 card
- Copies of the 1st and 3rd pages of all your I-20s at your current education level
- Copy of Form I-797 Approval Notice if you changed your status to F-1 within the U.S.
- Front and back copy of any previous EAD card(s), if applicable
- You may attach Form G-1145 (E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance) from to the first page of the application to request an e-Notification of the receipt of the application at the USCIS Lockbox facility. There is no filing fee for this service.
Step 2: The OISS advisor will review your application and request OPT in SEVIS if the application is approved. You will then receive a new I-20 with the OPT request on page 3. The OISS advisor will arrange your packet for mailing.
Step 3: Make a copy of all the documents in the application packet before mailing.
- If the address in item 3 of your Form I-765 is not in Nevada, refer to "Instructions for Form I-765" for the mailing address
- If the address in item 3 of your Form I-765 is in Nevada, mail all documents listed in point 1 and a copy of the new I-20 with OPT endorsement to one of the addresses below:
*U.S. Postal Service deliveries (request tracking option)
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
*Express mail and commercial courier deliveries
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
* Filing fee and delivery addresses subject to change. Check the instructions for Form I-765 to verify the filing fee and delivery address.
Information on Traveling After Applying for Post-completion OPT
Travel while application is pending: Students can travel while their OPT application is pending as long as they have a valid passport and visa stamp, receipt notice (Form I-797C, Notice of Action), letter verifying employment from employer if you already have a job offer and a valid travel signature on the 3rd page of your I-20. Travel signatures on post-completion OPT are valid for 6 months and must be valid upon your return to the U.S.
Travel after application has been approved: Students can travel while on OPT as long as they have a valid passport and visa stamp, an EAD card, letter verifying employment from employer and a valid travel signature on the 3rd page of your I-20. Travel signatures on post-completion OPT are valid for 6 months and must be valid upon your return to the U.S.
Applying for a visa: Students who do NOT have a valid F-1 visa stamp in their passport may apply for a new F-1 visa to enter the U.S. You should take your EAD card, I-20 and letter of employment to the embassy or consulate. While there is no guarantee that your visa will be granted it is still possible. It is more difficult to apply for a new visa while your post-completion OPT application is pending.
If a student departs the U.S. and returns on a different immigration status such as a visitor (B) visa or a visa waiver (VWT), that student is NOT eligible for practical training as their status on the I-94 is no longer F-1; EVEN if the work permit is received after they return to the United States. A work permit is only valid with an I-94 that says "F-1" and "D/S".
Instructions for Students Who Have Applied for OPT and Have Not Yet Received OPT
If you have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT), you should have received an official document, called a Form I-797C, Notice of Action (Receipt Notice). You may check the status of your application under Case Status using the Receipt Number on the receipt notice. You should receive the results of your application within 90 days of the Received Date listed on the receipt notice.
- If your address has changed since you filed for OPT, call the USCIS Customer Service line at 1-800-375-5283 to change your address, and send a notice to USCIS in writing, stating your address has changed, and giving them your file number, and request that they send the OPT to the new address. In many cases, OPT is not received because the address given on Form I-765 is no longer valid. If you set a forwarding address with the Postal Service, any mail from USCIS will not be forwarded and will be sent back to USCIS instead. We recommend you use the OISS address on Form I-765 to avoid this problem. Once OISS receives your mail from USCIS, we will open it to make a copy and contact you to pick it up.
- If USCIS does not approve or deny your application within 90 days please consult an OISS advisor. You may request an Interim EAD. To request an Interim EAD, you must schedule an INFOPASS appointment, on the USCIS website, to visit the local office in person. You must bring the following items to the USCIS office: proof of your identity and any documents that USCIS has sent to you regarding your Employment Authorization application. Once you make your request at the Local office, the local office personnel will forward your request (send a referral) to the Service Center for processing and inform you of the next steps.
Reporting Requirements After OPT Authorization
- When you start employment in your field you have to report your employer name, address and dates of employment to the OISS under OPT Employer Address Form within 10 days. You are responsible for reporting any employment changes to OISS throughout your OPT employment
- If you move you have to report your new mailing and/or physical address(es) to OISS within 10 days of the move. Go to Change of Address Form to update your address.