What is Post-Completion OPT?

Post-Completion OPT is Optional Practical Training (OPT) that you use to work after graduating from Amherst College.

Remember, OPT is authorization for employment that is directly related to your major field of study and is only for students in F-1 status.


How do I apply?

When do I apply?

Is funding support available for the $410 OPT filing fee?

What can I expect as the USCIS processes my application?

When can I start working?

Where can I start working?

How many hours can I work per week?

What do I need to report while on OPT?

Am I allowed to take time off between jobs?


 How do I apply?

1. Complete the required OPT learning module available through Moodle. This module consists of an informational presentation, a short quiz, and a form to request an I-20 for your OPT application. 

2. Compile all of your application documents:

  • Payment of $410 (select one payment option and provide the below):
    • Check or money order for $410 made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security, with SEVIS ID number written in Memo section, OR
    • Completed G-1450 for $410 credit card payment
  • Two US passport-style photos (must be taken within the last 30 days, cannot have been used for any other immigration applications, and should measure 2”x2”).  Write on the back of each photo:
    • Full Name
    • Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY)
    • SEVIS ID Number
    • I-94 Number
  • Completed Form G-1145
  • Completed Form I-765 
  • Copy of passport bio page (passport should not be expiring within the next six months)
  • Copy of most recent I-94 record
  • Copy of F-1 visa stamp (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
  • Copies of previous EAD cards (if you have been on OPT before, or have otherwise been issued an EAD in the past)

3. Schedule a 30-minute OPT Application Review Session with Director Bliss or Assistant Director Hall. In advance of your session, email your application materials to us via the instructions on the appointment scheduler. During this virtual appointment, your entire application will be reviewed and any questions you have can be discussed. If we do not receive an electronic copy of your prepared documents in advance, the OPT review session may have to be rescheduled.

  • Please note that you should never include your SSN in any emailed materials—please redact or leave it out of your application materials when emailing them to us for review.

4. Make any changes to your OPT application needed based on feedback from your OPT review session with the CISE, and make a copy of the new OPT I-20 that you received from the CISE. A copy of this new I-20 must be included in your final OPT application.

5. Send a complete OPT application, including all of the below documents, to the USCIS mailing address provided to you during your OPT review session with the CISE. Be sure to ship via a method with tracking, so that you can monitor the delivery of your OPT application to the USCIS.

  • Payment of $410 (select one payment option and provide the below):
    • Check or money order for $410 made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security, with SEVIS ID number written in Memo section, OR
    • Completed G-1450 for $410 credit card payment
  • Two US passport-style photos (must be taken within the last 30 days, cannot have been used for any other immigration applications, and should measure 2”x2”).  Write on the back of each photo:
    • Full Name
    • Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY)
    • SEVIS ID Number
    • I-94 Number
  • Completed Form G-1145
  • Completed Form I-765 (original)
  • Copy of newly issued OPT I-20 (issued no more than 25 days ago)
  • Copy of passport bio page (passport should not be expiring within the next six months)
  • Copy of most recent I-94 record
  • Copy of F-1 visa stamp (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
  • Copies of previous EAD cards (if you have been on OPT before, or have otherwise been issued an EAD in the past)

 

 When do I apply?

  • You may apply for Post-Completion OPT no earlier than 90 days prior to the end date on your I-20, and the USCIS can receive your OPT application no later than 60 days following the end date on your I-20.
  • Considering that it takes 3-5 months for the USCIS to process OPT applications, it is best to apply 90 days (or more, when possible) ahead of your requested OPT start date.

 

Is funding support available for the $410 OPT filing fee?

The CISE is able to provide a limited amount of grants to international students to help with OPT filing fees.

If you are an international student in F-1 status, plan to apply for Pre-Completion or Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) this semester, and are not in a position to pay the $410 OPT filing fee, you may submit an OPT Filing Fee Grant Request online.

The Center for International Student Engagement will review your request and contact you via email about next steps. Unfortunately, we are not able to fund all requests. We may offer partial funding if full funding is not available. Awarded funds are considered grants, not loans, and do not require repayment.

Be sure to submit this request form a minimum of four weeks before you intend to submit your OPT application to the USCIS. Funds cannot be dispersed immediately.

 

 What can I expect as the USCIS processes my application?

  • Within a week or two of submitting your OPT application to the USCIS, you will receive an electronic receipt notice. A paper receipt notice from USCIS can be expected approximately two weeks later. Your receipt number can be used to track your application status via the USCIS site.  
  • Application processing time varies — usually 3-5 months, but sometimes even longer. The longer processing time may be expected as the semester progresses, because the number of applications submitted tends to increase through the end of the semester.
  • Occasionally, USCIS may send a follow-up “Request for Evidence” notice, asking for additional documentation. If you receive such a request, please consult with the CISE (visit us during advising hours or email us) about the proper response. Failure to do so will seriously jeopardize your OPT application.
  • If your application is approved, you will be mailed an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), a photo identification card that serves as your proof of permission to engage in OPT employment.

 

When can I start working?

  • You may start working when you have received your EAD and the approved OPT start date on that EAD is no longer in the future.  You may not begin working any sooner than this.

 

Where can I start working?

  • You may work at any position that directly relates to your major field of study. You should feel confident in the connection between your major and your employment.
  • Work does not have to be paid on Post-Completion OPT.  Volunteer and unpaid work, as long as it directly relates to your major field of study, counts on OPT as “employment.”
  • Remember, you must work at least 20 hours per week in order to be considered “employed” on Post-Completion OPT.  You are permitted up to 90 days of cumulative unemployment time.
  • You may have multiple employers, as long as all of the work directly relates to your major field of study.  The hours spent working each job should total, in sum, at least 20 hours per week.

 

How many hours can I work per week?

  • You can request authorization for Post-Completion OPT on a full-time basis only. You must work at least 20 hours per week, in roles directly related to your major field of study, while on Post-Completion OPT.

 

What do I need to report while on OPT?

  • Don’t forget to report your employment, and any other notable changes. Within ten days of the following, you are required to report:
    • employment: name, address, and employment dates of your job
    • changes to employment (adding a job, leaving a job, changing jobs)
    • changes in legal name
    • changes in mailing or residential address
    • deciding to depart the US with the intention of forfeiting the remainder of your OPT
    • returning to school full time
    • changing out of F-1 status
  • To report your employment and any of the above changes, submit the CISE OPT Reporting Form.

 

Am I allowed to take time off between jobs?

  • Yes!  However, you may not be unemployed for more than 90 days (cumulative) during your period of approved Post-Completion OPT.
  • Remember, in order to be considered “employed” while on Post-Completion OPT, you must be working 20 hours per week.  Working less than 20 hours per week is considered “unemployment” on Post-Completion OPT and counts toward the 90 days of permitted unemployed time.