How do I apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Choose an OPT Start-Date
This is the date that you would like the work-authorization to begin. If you are applying for Post-Completion OPT, you must choose a start-date that is within 60 days past your completion date listed on Page 1 (item 5) on your current I-20.
Completion of studies is defined for immigration purposes as the date when you complete all of the requirements for your degree. It is not the date you receive your diploma.
For undergraduates, it is the final day of examinations of your final semester.
For graduate students (Master’s and Ph.D.), the completion date could be the final day of examinations of your final semester, or the date of defense or the date you submit your final dissertation or thesis to the Graduate College.
Exception to the rule: Graduate students who have completed all coursework and are only working on a final project/thesis or dissertation, could use another date appropriate for their individual situation. Please arrange an appointment with an OIE advisor if you have any questions.
Gather the following documents
Letter of Support from your advisor which verifies your completion of studies.
This letter is required for OIE to issue the OPT I-20. It can be scanned and sent to us via email after it has been printed on UVM letterhead and signed by your academic advisor.
For your OPT application:
- Copy of new OPT I-20 (our office will issue this after receiving the letter from your advisor)
- Form I-765 – download instructions
- Copies of all I-20s (Pages 1 & 3) – all that you have received from UVM and any previous schools that you attended.
- Photocopy of your I-94 card and US visa stamp (if you have one)
- Photocopy of your passport information pages
- Check for $380.00 made payable to "USDHS"
- Two (2) U.S. Passport style photographs must be color pictures with white background taken within the last 30 days. Please do not wear hats or head-coverings. Please print your name and I-94 number on the back of the photos. Do not cut to size or staple.
Meet with the International Student Coordinator
The International Student Coordinator will issue you an I-20 endorsed for OPT and review your OPT application materials.
Mail your OPT application packet to USCIS at the following address
If you are sending it via Express Mail
(FedEx, UPS, DHL or US Postal Service):
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Lewisville TX 75067
If you are sending it by normal US Postal Service options
(including Priority Mail):
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
- The OPT application must be received at the USCIS Service Center within 30 days of the date your OPT I-20 was issued (see item 10 on page 1 of the I-20 for the issue date).If your OPT I-20 is more than 30 days old and you have not yet filed the application with USCIS, contact the International Student Coordinator to reprint a new I-20.
- The application must be mailed from the United States.
- Only mail your application to the above address if your address listed on the I-765 Form is in one of these states or territories:
- Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina,Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia
- If you are using an address in a different state, you must send your application to a different address. Refer to Page 10 of the I-765 instructions (PDF)
Make a copy of the application for your records before you send it.
- Mail it with Delivery Confirmation or via express mail (DHL, FedEx, UPS, or USPS) to receive tracking information and proof that it arrived.
- If you are using a friend or family’s address on the I-765 Form, be sure either your name is on their mailbox or write the current address as: c/o your friend’s name. Because of security reasons, the U.S. Postal Service will not deliver mail from USCIS to a residential address unless the name on the envelope matches the name on the mailbox.