Post-Completion OPT

Optional Practical Training (OPT) After Completion of Degree Requirements

Definition: Employment related to your field of study after completion of all degree requirements.  It is also referred to as Post-completion OPT. OPT is authorized by USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) through the issuance of an EAD card (Employment Authorization Document). OPT is permitted for a period of up to a maximum of twelve months per educational level (Bachelors, Masters, etc.).

Post-Completion OPT can be authorized upon the completion of your program of study.

Eligibility: You must meet all of the following conditions:

  1. Must be a registered student in F-1 status physically in the United States at the time of application
  2. Must have been enrolled in a degree or program in lawful student status on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year
  3. Must have declared a major field of study

Procedure: Obtaining authorization for OPT is a 3-step process:

  1. Complete required application documents and submit electronically to DSO, Shelley Palmer (
  2. The DSO will review your application and issue you an I-20 with OPT recommendation.
  3. Mail a complete OPT application to USCIS

Apply not more than 90 days prior to the completion of your degree program.

You should apply for OPT as early as is permitted because approval of your application by USCIS may require  90 days or more.  You may not begin employment until you have the EAD in hand and you can only work during the time period indicated on the EAD.

How to Apply

Step 1: Submit the documents listed below to Shelley Palmer (

Step 2:  Required application documents:

  1. Bates OPT Recommendation Request Form
  2. I-94 from the electronic I-94 web site at
  3. Complete the fillable I-765 Form. Only use the fillable form and do not handwrite it. Be sure to enter your name EXACTLY as it is in your passport. Print it and sign it in BLACK ink only, making sure not to write outside the allotted area.
    Only submit your I-765 in paper form. Submitting the I-765 as an online web-based form requires submission of biometrics after your application has been received by USCIS.

    • On the top of the I-765, before question 1, you must check the correct box for “I am applying for: Permission to Accept Employment”
      If you do not check the box, USCIS will return your application to you.
    • Question 3, Address. The address you put on the I-765 has to be valid up to 4 months from the time you mail the application. An “undeliverable” address is a major source of problems with OPT applications. We require that you use 9 Andrews Rd Roger Williams Hall Rm 124, Lewiston, ME 04240.
    • The code for post-completion OPT is (c)(3)(B).
  1. Complete page 1 of the OPT Recommendation Request Form. You must fill in your requested employment start and end dates. These dates cannot be changed after the application has been processed.
  2. A complete checklist of documents follows the mailing information below.

Step 3: The DSO will review your application and issue you an I-20 with OPT recommendation.

Step 4: Mail your OPT Application to USCIS:

  1. It is ESSENTIAL that the USCIS Service Center receives your application within 30 days of the date that the OPT I-20 is issued. If it is not received within 30 days of the issuance date, your application will be denied by USCIS and your $410 fee will not be returned or refunded to you.
  2. Remember to sign and date the new I-20 in BLACK  ink only!  Your application will be returned for an unsigned I-20, an unsigned check, an unsigned credit/debit card form or an unsigned I-765 form.
  3. Photocopy the entire application before you send it so that you have a complete copy for your records.
  4. Send your application to the USCIS by a courier service such as FedEx or UPS to provide you with proof that your application was timely filed in the event that the application is lost.
  5. All applications must either be filed at the USCIS Chicago, IL Lockbox facility**. This information is subject to change. Please confirm the address with Shelley Palmer before sending your application materials.
    Students who list a mailing address on the I-765 in Maine must send the application to:
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

OPT Application Checklist:

  1. Form G-1450 for using a credit/debit card to pay the application fee (recommended)
  2. Form G-1145 This form should be on the top of your application if you want USCIS to notify you by email and/or text message that they have accepted your application. (strongly recommended)
  3. Completed Form I-765 – Original-NO PHOTOCOPIES. This must be completed on line and printed out. Do not hand write the form except for your signature.
  4. Required $410 fee payable to the Department of Homeland Security by:
      • personal check or money order, write “USCIS I-765” in the memo line of the check  The check must be pre-printed with your name and address.  Do not write your name and address on the check.
      • Debit or Credit card: Use the form G-1450 to debit your bank account. BE SURE TO SIGN THE FORM.
      • Bank accounts must be drawn on a U.S. bank.
        See How to Write a Check
  5. Photocopies of pages 1 and 2 of all I-20s  that you have been issued since receiving your F-1 status, including the I-20 with the OPT recommendations. DO NOT send originals of any I-20. Be sure you have SIGNED AND DATED all your I-20s on page 1. Note: The USCIS wants to see all your I-20s starting from the one marked “initial attendance”. If you do not have all your I-20s  speak to Shelley Palmer.
  6. Photocopy of your passport ID page
  7. Photocopy of your F-1 entry visa (if any) OR photocopy of I-797 Notice of Approval of change of status to F-1
  8. Photocopy of your most recent I-94 retrieved from the electronic I-94 web site at
  9. Two U.S. passport style photos. The USCIS requires that the photos meet the specifications for the full frontal/passport type of photos and not be more than 30 days old when the applications is filed. Go to the Department of State website for photo standards. Write your name lightly on the back of each picture in pencil. Passport photos can be taken at the following locations:
    •  CVS on Sabattus Street.
    • Walmart in Auburn

Step 5: Receiving your EAD Card:

  • Processing time: The USCIS can take 90 days or more to process an EAD application. After you receive the “Notice of Action” with the 13-digit receipt number, you can check the status of your pending application online on the USCIS web site at Contact the DSO if your application has been pending for more than 90 days from the date of receipt on the “Notice of Action receipt” form.
  • USCIS will send all related mail including the receipt notice, the approval notice and the EAD to the address indicated on the I-765 form (Rm 124 Roger Williams Hall)
  • The employment authorization start date on your EAD will be the date you requested or the date the EAD is processed, whichever is later.

Special Considerations:

    • If you decide that you do not want OPT, contact Shelley Palmer immediately for guidance on your situation.
    • Please note that once your OPT application has been sent to the USCIS, there is no provision for changing the dates.
    • You are not allowed to work until you receive the EAD from USCIS. If you do not work during the authorized period of time granted to you, that time is still deducted from the total 12 months.  You cannot recover this time for later use.