How to Apply for OPT Online

Reminder: OPT I-20 Required; Do not submit your OPT application to USCIS without first obtaining an OPT recommendation I-20 from PDSO Shelley Palmer.

Please note that these resources are intended for general informational purposes only and are not legal advice. It is your responsibility to review and follow all official instructions provided by USCIS

In advance of submitting your online OPT application, it is recommended that you prepare the following digital files:

All documents must be in a certain format and no more than 6 MB per file: JPG, JEPG, PDF, TIF, OR TIFF. See the exception for photos
-Name document with simple text (no special characters)
-Biometrics are not required for OPT applicants.

  • OPT recommendation I-20 (issued no more than 30 days ago for Post-Completion OPT applications, and no more than 60 days ago for STEM applications)
  • Your passport bio page
  • Your F-1 visa
  • 2”x2” recent passport photos Must be 600×600 pixels; no more than 6 MB: file must be a JPG, JPEG, TIF, OR TIFF – NO PDF. Check the guidelines.
  • Your most recent I-94 record
  • Any previous EADs (if applicable)
  • Previously issued CPT I-20s and/or OPT I-20s (if applicable)
  • Official transcript for the degree upon which your STEM extension application is based (for STEM OPT applications only)

You should proceed with the online application process very carefully. The system allows you to submit your application without all required evidence, which can lead to requests for evidence and additional difficulties. This means you must be very careful to ensure that everything is included before submitting the online application.

Filing Your I-765 and OPT Application Online

For Post-Completion OPT, USCIS must receive your OPT application no more than 30 days after your OPT recommendation I-20 was issued. For STEM OPT, USCIS must receive your OPT application no more than 60 days after the OPT recommendation I-20 was issued.

The following instructions are intended to help answer the most common questions about applying for OPT via USCIS’s online filing system. These instructions do not specify every single question on the MyUSCIS online I-765 application. If you have questions that are not answered here, please contact Shelley Palmer

1. Create or log into your MyUSCIS online account.  Visit How to Create a USCIS Online Account for more instructions
2. Select “File a Form Online” and choose “Application for Employment Authorization (I765)”.
3. Getting Started
  • Select the type of OPT that you are applying for (“what is your eligibility category?”):
    • c)(3)(B)  Post-Completion OPT
    • (c)(3)(C) STEM Extension
  • Select your reason for applying:
    • Initial OPT: “initial permission for employment” is the right choice.
    • STEM OPT Extension: “renewal of my permission to accept employment” is the right choice.
  • Unless a lawyer or accredited representative is preparing your OPT application for you, no one is assisting you with this application.

• FOR STEM OPT APPLICANTS ONLY:

  1.  What is your degree? “Bachelors” and the CIP code found on your I-20
  2. What is your employer’s name as listed on E-verify? Write your employer’s name as listed in the e-verify system (this should also match your I-983).
  3. What is your employer’s E-Verify company identification number or a valid E-Verify client company identification number? Write your employer’s E-verify number. This is usually 4 – 7 digits. E-verify number is not the same as EIN. Check with your employer if you do not know your employer’s e-verify number.
4. About You
  • Provide your current legal name as it appears on your I-20 and in your passport
  • Provide a current U.S. mailing address that will be valid for 3-5 months (as long as your OPT application is pending.
    • This is the address where USCIS will send your approval documents, including your EAD, and any other mailings.
    • OPT applicants should provide the Center for Global Education mailing address. The CGE will receive your mail from USCIS, open it, scan and arrange to have the original shipped to you. Center for Global Education mailing address:
      • In care of name: Center for Global Education
      • Address Line 1: 9 Andrews Rd.
      • Address Line 124 Roger Williams hall
      • City: Lewiston
      • State: Maine
      • ZIP code: 04240

For STEM OPT Applicants Only:

If you expect that your personal U.S. address will not be valid in 3-5 months, you should provide the U.S. mailing address of a trusted friend or family member that will be valid in three months.

  • You may provide the Center for Global Education mailing address if you’d like. The Center for Global Education would receive your mail from USCIS, open it, scan and email a copy of it to you, and you could request to have the original shipped to you. If you would like to do this, the Center for Global Education mailing address:
    • In care of name: Center for Global Education
    • Address Line 1: 9 Andrews Rd.
    • Address Line 124 Roger Williams hall
    • City: Lewiston
    • State: Maine
    • ZIP code: 04240
5. Evidence
  • Upload a 2X2 photo (a 2”x2” recent passport photo).
  • Upload your most recent Form I-94 record (not your I-94 travel history).
  • Upload any previous EADs (if you have previously been approved for OPT), a copy of your passport, and a copy of your F-1 visa in the Employment Authorization Document or Government ID section.
  • Upload any and all previously issued CPT I-20s and/or OPT I-20s in the Previously Authorized for CPT or OPT section.
    *STEM OPT Applicants
    DO NOT need to upload CPT and/or OPT I-20s. Only the STEM OPT I-20 is required.
  • Upload your newly issued OPT recommendation Form I-20. This OPT recommendation I-20 must be no more than 30 days old if applying for Post-Completion OPT, and must be no more than 60 days old if applying for STEM OPT. Email the DSO if you are concerned that you are too close or are beyond this window.

• FOR STEM APPLICANTS ONLY:

  • College degree: Upload a copy of your official transcript here, showing completion of the degree that is the basis for your STEM OPT extension application.
  • Institutional accreditation: Generally, this section can be skipped for Bates College students. This section is only for STEM OPT applicants who are applying on the basis of a previously earned STEM degree. Unless you completed a STEM degree before your studies at Bates College, and are applying for the STEM OPT extension in connection with that previous degree, this section is not applicable to you.
6. Additional Information

*Add a response only if you:

  • Previously had a different SEVIS ID number while in F-1 status (for example, you studied in F-1 status, left for a leave of absence, then returned to school with a new I-20).
    • Section: About You; Page: Your immigration information; Question: What is your SEVIS number (if any)?; Additional Information: indicate your previous SEVIS ID and the start and end date of your previous I-20(s).
  • Have previously been authorized for CPT or OPT:
    • Section: Evidence; Page: Previously authorized CPT or OPT; Question: Previously authorized CPT or OPT; Additional Information: Whether CPT or OPT, start and end dates of CPT/OPT, whether it was full-time or part-time, pre- or post-completion, and academic level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate) at which it was authorized.
  • Hold citizenship in three or more countries:
    • Section: About You; Page: Your immigration information; Question: What is your country of citizenship or nationality? Additional Information: indicate your additional citizenship and upload copies of each passport under the Employment Authorization Document or Government ID section of Evidence.
 7. Review your application
  • Select View Draft Snapshot to retrieve a copy of your draft I-765 for your OPT Review Session with PDSO Shelley Palmer, scheduled via BatesReach or email (spalmer@bates.edu).
  • After your OPT Review Session with Shelley Palmer:
    • Check that you are submitting your OPT application to USCIS no more than 30 days after the date your OPT recommendation I-20 was issued for Post-Completion OPT, or 60 days for STEM OPT. Do not submit your application if it is outside this timeframe. Contact the PDSO with questions.
    • Verify that all information is correct. Digitally sign and submit your application.
8. Pay the application fee
  • Pay the required application fee of $410 via credit or debit card.
  • Once you pay the fee, your OPT application is submitted and no further changes can be made.

Note: The current OPT filing fee is $410.

USCIS adjusts their filing fees from time to time. Before filing your application it’s a good idea to confirm the fee for the form I-765 Request for Employment Authorization: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/g-1055.pdf