Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is temporary employment authorization granted by the Department of Homeland Security to F-1 students. An F-1 student may be authorized up to a total of 12 months of full-time practical training at each educational level (i.e., you may have 12 months of OPT at the bachelor’s level and another 12 months of OPT at the master’s level). Students wishing to apply for OPT must schedule an appointment with IPS (906.487.2160). Please bring all documents noted below at the time of the appointment. 

Requirements for OPT

  • You must have been enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year to be eligible for OPT.
  • Your OPT must relate to your major. While on F-1 OPT, the work you will perform must directly relate to your major area of study.
  • Student may not be unemployed for an aggregate of more than 90 days.
  • Students can work 40 hours per week.
  • Employment can be a paid or unpaid job.
  • You CANNOT work (on OR off campus) until you receive your employment authorization document (EAD).
  • Report any change of name or address, or interruption of such employment to IPS for the duration of the authorized training.
  • Must complete all practical training within a 14-month period of following the completion of study, excluding 17-month extension. 
  • Once you receive a recommendation for post-completion OPT I-20 from IPS, you must apply for an EAD with USCIS within 30 days. Additionally, you may file up to 90 days prior to your program end-date and not later than 60 days after your program end date.
  • Student’s I-20 program end date may be shortened to reflect actual completion date.
  • Master’s and Ph.D. students may define program completion as the day when all coursework is completed.
  • Students may apply for post-completion OPT if all they have is thesis remaining. However, students must complete their degree requirements within the 12 month OPT period.

OPT Application: Please bring all documents below at the time of the appointment. 

  • Academic advisor recommendation (for IPS, do not mail with application packet)
  • OPT Employment Requested I-20 (meet with IPS for new I-20)
  • I-765 Form (type or print legibly in black ink). We do not recommend completing the online application.  Sample I-765
    • U.S. mailing address on I-765:
      • List current address only if you’ll be there when card is expected to arrive.
      • Post Office will not forward any federal documents (EAD); it would be sent back to USCIS. We recommend you list IPS. You may give the IPS address: Michigan Tech, IPS, 1400 Townsend Dr, Houghton, MI 49931. We will e-mail you when the card arrives.
      • You may give a friend’s/relative’s address, but your name must be on the mailbox.
  • Photocopy of each document:
    • I-94 – print or photocopy paper card (front and back).
    • valid passport – photo page, renewal page if original has expired, and pages showing amendments such as name changes, corrections, etc.
    • visa – photo page.
    • previous I-20s.
  • 2 photos taken within 30 days: IPS recommends US Postal Service or Brockway Photography in downtown Houghton. Photos MUST be the correct size and taken within 30 days of filing your application. Passport photo examples .
    • Write your name and I-94 card number on the back of each photo in pencil.
  • $380 fee (Check or Money Order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Personal checks must have your name and address printed on them and be numbered 101 or higher. These will be handled as Electronic Funds Transfers and will be deducted from your account immediately upon receipt. Spell out the exact dollar amount of the fee for the service you are requesting.  The "cents" portion of the amount should be written as a fraction over 100.  In this example, the amount is "Three hundred eighty and 00/100." A Money Order can be purchased at the post office, a retail store, bank or credit union, etc. 

    NOTE: Fees can change without prior notice. Please see USCIS for the appropriate fee.

Other Documentation

  • Offer letter from your future employer if you have one.
  • Form G-1145, E-Notification of application (optional). Use this form to request a text message and/or email when USCIS receives your application and when a decision is made. The receipt notification will list your receipt number and tell you how to obtain case status information.
  • Any correspondence with the USCIS (if applicable) – photocopy all correspondence, envelopes, receipts, notifications, etc. as may be appropriate for the situation.
  • Previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD cards, if applicable) – and photocopy of card.

Report change of employer or new employment by completing and submitting the Employer Information Form. You will receive a new I20 every time a change is made.

If you travel while your OPT application is pending, take these things with you:

  • Receipt issued by USCIS for the OPT application.
  • Job offer letter.
  • Current I-20 endorsed for travel within the preceding 6 months.
  • All travel documents (i.e. valid passport and visa).

  • NOTE: IF YOUR OPT HAS BEEN APPROVED and you depart the US before getting a job, your OPT ends and you cannot reenter. You may only enter the US if you have a job offer.
    Students engaged in OPT who wish to travel outside the United States are subject to the same travel requirements as an F-1 student.

If you travel while your OPT application is approved (whether you’ve received the card or not), take these things with you:

  • Current I-20 endorsed for travel within the preceding 6 months
  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Unexpired EAD card or the receipt issued by USCIS for your OPT application
  • Offer letter indicating you are/will be employed including dates of employment

Reporting requirements while on OPT
You must report any change of address, employment, and/or visa status to the IPS office during their OPT employment.

Report change of employer or new employment by completing and submitting the Employer Information Form. You will receive a new I20 every time a change is made.

  • Students must report all employment (starting employment, ending employment, moving from one site to another with the same employer) including employer’s name and address and employment dates.
  • Students must report all change of name and/or visa status (H1-B approval, Permanent Residency applied for).
  • Students must report departure from US if you don’t plan to return. Travel letter should be obtained from either employer or MTU before leaving country if you plan to return.
  • As long as Michigan Tech serves as your visa sponsor, you must report the above information. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of your I-20 and your OPT.

If your EAD is lost, stolen or destroyed

Form I-765 is needed to apply for a replacement EAD card for OPT. Follow the OPT instructions provided by IPS, including the fee payment, with the following exceptions:

  • Check box for Replacement of lost Employment Authorization Document at top of Form I-765
  • Send photocopies of all I-20s and a (copy of) new I-20 with current OPT recommendation, in addition to the other documents required.


OPT STEM Extension

"CAP GAP" Extension