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F-1 Optional Practical Training(OPT)

What is Optional Practical Training(OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment benefit for practical training directly related to the major area of study. There are two types of OPT: Pre-completion and Post-completion.

Who are eligible for OPT?

  • Must lawfully enrolled for one academic year on a full-time basis
  • Employment must be directly related to your course of study
  • Must be in valid F-1 status at the time of application

How long and how many OPTs can one receive?

In general, one can be granted maximum 12-month OPT per degree level. For example, after receiving your bachelor’s degree, you can be granted one 12-month OPT. You may obtain another 12-month OPT after you receive a master’s degree, and one more after your doctoral degree.

You may be granted an OPT extension beyond 12-month in two circumstances: H-1B CAP GAP OPT Extension and 17-Month STEM OPT Extension

Pre-Completion OPT
You may use your 12-month OPT before graduation for off-campus employment in your field of study.You may only work part-time while school is in session and full-time during summer and winter breaks. The time you use will be deducted from your 12-month for Post-completion OPT.

To apply for Pre-completion OPT, download the OPT application packet and follow the instructions for Post-completion OPT.

Post-completion OPT

When to apply for Post-completion OPT?

You may apply OPT within 90 days prior to your graduation date, and must apply within 60 days after graduation date.

For doctoral students, you may apply for OPT using course completion date, dissertation defense or submission date, and graduation date.

How to apply for OPT?


Step 1: Visit OISS website at http://lehigh.edu/oiss/ to download OPT packet

Step 2: Complete and scan all forms and log inoto iHome (https://iss.lehigh.edu). Complete OPT Request Form and upload your forms

Step 3: Bring your application to OISS and pick up your OPT I-20

Step 4: If you decide to mail your OPT application, you must mail the following documents to USCIS


  1. New OPT I-20

  2. I-765 Form

  3. G-1145 E-Notification of Application Acceptance

  4. ER-750

  5. Two passport photos (2”x2” see the requirements; must be taken within 30 days)

  6. A check $380 payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (OPT application fee)
  7. A copy of all previous I-20s, most recent I-94 card, passport page with biographic information and photo, and visa stamp

You must mail your OPT application to U.S. CIS within 30 days after OISS issues your new OPT I-20.

If you choose OISS to mail you OPT application to USCIS, submit the following documents to OISS

  1. I-765 Form

  2. G-1145 E-Notification of Application Acceptance

  3. ER-750

  4. Two passport photos (2”x2” see the requirements)

  5. Two checks:

    $380 payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (OPT application fee)

    $15 payable to Lehigh University (FedEx fee)
  6. A copy of all previous I-20s, most recent I-94 card, passport page with biographic information and photo, and visa stamp


OISS will notify you to pick up your EAD after receiving it from USCIS or mail it to you if you move away from Lehigh



What should you do to maintain F-1 status while on OPT?

To maintain your F-1 OPT status, you must

  • have a paid or non-paid, full-time or part-time job within 90 days from the start date of your Employment Authorization Card (EAD). In other words, while on OPT, you can’t be unemployed for more than 90 days.
  • report your employment information and home address whenever the information is changed at iHome
  • not start working until you have your EAD in hand and on or after the start date on the card

Travel outside of the United States while on OPT

You may travel outside of the U.S. after graduation while on OPT. You must have the following documents to re-enter the U.S.

  • A valid passport at least 6 months into future time when you re-enter
  • I-20 with OPT recommendation and ISS adviser’s signature with 6 months on page 3
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • A job offer if you have one


If you must travel while your application is pending, consult with ISS adviser before departing.

Mailing Addresses for OPT:

If you live in (return address on I-765):

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


Mail your application to USCIS Dallas Lockbox:

For U.S. Postal Service deliveries:

USCIS

PO Box 660867

Dallas, TX 75266


For Express Mail:

USCIS, Attn: AOS

2501 S. State Hwy, 121, Business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX 75067


If you live in (return address on I-765): Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington (state), Wisconsin, Wyoming, or Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands


Mail your application to USCIS Phoenix Lockbox:


For U.S. Postal Service deliveries:

USCIS

PO Box 21281

Phoenix, AZ 85036


For Express Mail:

USCIS, Attn: AOS

1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100

Phoenix, AZ 85034



Office of International Students and Scholars • Lehigh University • 32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • 610-758-4859 • Fax: 610-758-5156 • intnl@lehigh.edu
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