Use the tabs on the left to navigate through the important information related to your OPT authorization and reporting responsibilities.

Jul 6, 2023: Premium Processing is now available for OPT and STEM OPT applications! Our OPT FAQ has more info.

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment authorization for international students upon completion of their studies.

  • Students must apply to USCIS for this work authorization. They cannot begin working until they receive their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.
  • OPT employment must be at least 20 hours per week and be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
  • OPT allows students to work for up to 12 months. Students who graduated with certain STEM degrees are eligible for the 24 month STEM Extension.
  • Graduate Students: applying for OPT can impact your final day of CPT and your final day of on-campus employment (including graduate assistantships), so it’s best to consult an ISSS advisor before starting this process.

Put simply, there are two stages to receive OPT authorization:

  1. Request the OPT I-20 in your final semester
  2. After receiving the OPT I-20, apply for an EAD from USCIS via Form I-765 (now online)

The timing and details of OPT can be complicated, so please see our OPT FAQ and talk with an advisor to learn more about OPT.

In 2020, USCIS launched an online application process for Post-Completion and STEM OPT. Our office has updated its processes to reflect the new online application. Please review the information on this page and in the Optional Practical Training Application FAQs before starting your application.

Important notes:

  • Post-Completion and STEM OPT applications require a new I-20 that lists your OPT as “requested” on the second page. Without this OPT/STEM OPT I-20, your application could be denied.
  • Submitting Form I-765 must be done from within the U.S.; applying from abroad could risk your application being denied, and those who depart during their grace period are not allowed re-entry to the U.S. because their program end date is in the past.

Review the application FAQs before starting your online application.

As of Jul 6, 2023, we’ve added Premium Processing information to the OPT FAQ.

  1. Be sure to read the information on this webpage and our OPT Application FAQs thoroughly before starting the application process.
    • If you still have questions about the application process, please connect with an international advisor via our Advising Options.
  2. Complete the ISSS eForm to request the updated I-20 you will submit to USCIS in your online application.
  3. Once you submit your eForm, your Academic Advisor will receive an email to confirm your program completion date. ISSS cannot process your request until your advisor has completed this. We will be notified when that happens.
  4. An advisor will review your request and email you an updated I-20 recommending you for Post-Completion OPT.
    • You are responsible for submitting your application to USCIS.

Please note: It can take up to 7-10 business days for our office to process your request once it is received, please plan accordingly.

  1. In order to verify the accuracy of the program completion date the student has indicated in their OPT application, ISSS requests verification from an Academic Advisor who is familiar with the student’s progress. If you are familiar with the student’s progress and believe the student will complete program requirements on the date listed, please click on the link provided in your email and submit the eForm.
  2. If the student is still enrolled in coursework and may need to repeat a class, please include a comment in the eForm. ISSS will have a discussion with the student recommending that they postpone the submission of their OPT application since it is difficult to withdraw once they have applied, and they cannot fully utilize the benefit if they have outstanding coursework requirements after their OPT begins.
  3. After you submit the eForm, ISSS will be automatically notified so that we can begin processing the student’s request. Thank you!


  • For the purposes of the student’s OPT application, their program completion date may be their graduation date, thesis/dissertation defense date, or last day of classes.
  • If the student has met all degree requirements, but their graduation date will be delayed an extra semester because they missed the deadline to apply for graduation, their completion date should be their defense date, last day of classes, or the end date of the semester in which they met all degree requirements.

ISSS recommends you to file for Post-Completion OPT online.

  1. START HERE: Review the Online Application FAQs in the tab above before starting your online application.
  2. Gather your OPT application documents
    • Scroll down to review the Application Checklist provided at the bottom to make sure you have everything your need.
    • Make sure you have an updated I-20 issued by ISSS for your OPT application. Your I-20 must show your OPT as “requested” on the second page of your document.
      • Print a color copy of your new I-20 for your records, and upload a signed copy to your online application.
        • Please remember to physically sign your I-20
      • View an example of what page 2 of your document should look like here.
  3. Start your Online Application with USCIS.
    • You will be asked to include evidence of your prior CPT authorizations.
      • If you utilized CPT during your degree program, please find an attached list to submit as evidence.
    • When completing the Mailing Address section of the online application:
      • The address you enter as your Mailing Address is where USCIS will mail your EAD card.
      • USCIS will not allow EAD cards to be forwarded!
      • If you do not know where you will be living in the next three months, please use a friend or family member’s address or the ISSS mailing address:
        • Colorado State University, 1024 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO, 80523
      • Someone must sign for delivery of the EAD card. If someone other than yourself such as your roommate, family member, friend, apartment office manager, or CSU might be signing on your behalf, you must submit a Form 3801 to the US Post Office local to the mailing address you used for delivery.
        • If you elect to use our mailing address in your online application, please email our office for the Form 3801 that works for our address.

If you would like an advisor to answer questions regarding the online I-765, or if you would like to learn about submitting a paper application by mail (not recommended), please schedule an appointment with an International Advisor via Navigate.

  • Updated I-20 that shows your Post-Completion OPT as “requested” on the second page of the document.
  • $410 – this fee can be paid online at the end of your online application
  • 2 new passport photos
    • Passport photo requirements can be found here.
      • The RamCard office on campus provides passport photo services or you can use other community locations such as Walgreens.
  • Copy of Passport Photo ID page
  • Copy of F-1 U.S. Visa and most recent arrival stamp
  • Copy of Current I-94 (available on the CBP website)
  • Copies of any previously issued EAD cards
  • Screenshot of your SEVIS record showing any CPT authorizations at your current degree level
  • You should receive this from the ISSS advisor who issues you the updated I-20.
    • If you participated in CPT and you did not receive this document, please email our office before submitting your application to USCIS.
    • If you did not participate in CPT, you can skip this step.