As an F1 student, you have the option of working in the United States by engaging in practical training after the completion of your program. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning.
Requirements for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- OPT must relate to your major or course of study.
- You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education 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).
- You must apply for work authorization by electronically filing a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you a Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) upon approving your Form I-765.
- Wait to start work until the start date and after you receive your EAD Card.
How to Apply for OPT
Step 1: Complete the OPT Request Form.
a) Fill out the OPT Request Form – you can print out the PDF or pick a form up at the OISE
b) Obtain the approval from your Academic Advisor
Step 2: Prepare the following documents for your OPT application to be sent to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
a) 2 passport-sized photos.
They must have been taken no more than 30 days ago. Dimensions should be 2×2 inches and the background white or off white.
–Do not wear a white shirt!
-Do not smile.
-Keep your hair back-should not cover your face.
Local Photo Studio: Claremont Photo located at 241 Harvard Ave., Claremont, CA 91711
b) A check, cashiers check, or money order made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $410.00
Check to see that the I-765 Filing Fee is current at the following website.
Note: Make sure you have enough money in your account when using a personal check.
c) Fill in Form G-1145 on the computer and print it out.
d) Fill in Form I-765 on your computer and print it out.
e) Copy and include previous I-20’s especially if you’ve completed previous CPT or OPT at another program level
Note: In this case, you’ll want to include a copy of your previous EAD Card also
f) Copy of your passport (should not be expired).
g) Copy of your I-94 card (front /back: if you have one issued before May 22, 2013) or download your I-94 here.
h) Copy entire OPT package including photos, payment and postage and keep for your personal records.
Step 3: It is strongly recommended that you visit the OISE to have a staff member review your application for completeness before you send it to the USCIS.
- You can simply come in or request an appointment through the OISE email: OISS@laverne.edu. Indicate your passport name and student ID# and you will receive a response listing appointment date and time options.
Step 4: Special mailing instructions:
- The USCIS must receive your OPT application within 30 days of the I-20 issuance, otherwise, the USCIS will reject your application. Therefore, do not wait until the last minute! Instead, ask OISE to re-print your I-20 if you are still within your 60 day grace period.
- If you are sending your application from the state of California and requesting your EAD Card be mailed to an address in California, you have 2 mailing options: U.S. Postal Service or Express mail.
U.S. Postal Service Address:
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
Express Mail Address:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Step 5: Once you receive your Employment Authorization Card (EAD Card), you must submit a copy of the front and back to the OISE.
Step 6: You must report your current address and employment status once your OPT starts.
- Reporting must occur no more than 10 days after any changes with your address at: Change of Address
- Reporting must occur as soon as possible with any employment/unemployment changes at: OPT Change of Employment
Step 7: Once your OPT ends and you decide to go home or simply not complete your OPT period, you should notify the OISE office via email: OISS@laverne.edu.
- Maintain your F-1 status while on OPT: OPT is an F-1 student benefit. You continue in F-1 status as long as you are on OPT.
- OPT Reporting Requirements:
While you are on OPT, you are required to report the following to the OISE within 10 days of any of the following changes:
- OPT Employment must be both authorized and in your field of studies:
Employment is authorized to begin once your OPT start date has passed and you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). OPT employment must provide practical training experience in your field of studies. For example, if you completed your degree in Music, you are to be employed in a job giving your experience in music, not as an accountant.
- Obtaining a Social Security Card for OPT Employment:
You are eligible to apply for a Social Security Card once the start date of your OPT has passed. Bring your EAD Card, I-20 requesting OPT, valid passport, F-1 visa, I-94, U.S. issued Driver License (if you have one), and an ID issued by your home country government (birth certificate, Driver License, Military ID, or government ID card), and your local U.S. address. You can apply at any Social Security Office. The office in Glendora is most familiar with La Verne students. Cards are generally mailed to your home address about two weeks after you file the application. For more information regarding F-1 international students and Social Security go to: http://ssa.gov/pubs/10181.html
- Limited Periods of Unemployment Permitted to Maintain Status:
During OPT, your F-1 status is dependent upon employment. A student on OPT fails to maintain F-1 status once he/she has accrued a total of more than 90 days of unemployment. You must keep a record of the dates you are unemployed. It is also your responsibility to keep the name and address of your employer and/or loss of employment current in SEVIS by communicating with OISE (see #2 above).
- Be certain you have Medical Insurance:
Your La Verne Medical Insurance terminates on the day of your last final exam at La Verne. We advise you to carry sufficient medical insurance for emergencies as long as you remain in the U.S. List of insurance companies.
- Carry proper documents when you travel outside of the U.S. and re-enter the U.S.
If you travel outside the U.S. after your OPT start date, or at the time that the EAD card is issued, it may be risky for you to re-enter the country without the EAD Card in combination with a job offer letter. For further information, see the U.S. government link: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel/faq_f2.htm (look at letters “m, n, and o”).
- Read your “@laverne.edu” e-mail regularly:
OISE will continue to communicate immigration updates and other important information to you at your @laverne.edu email address, and through the OISE Newsletter. Read the E-letters regularly to be certain you are aware of changes that may affect you and your F-1 status.
- If you end your OPT early:
If you decide to end your OPT before the end date on your EAD Card and I-20, please contact OISE. It is important that your SEVIS record be attended to so that you will not have difficulty obtaining a U.S. visa in the future.
- What to do after OPT ends:
When your OPT ends, you have 60 days to do one of the following:
- Depart the U.S.
- Change to another visa status, such as H-1B
- Transfer out from La Verne to another educational institution to begin a new program of studies, or be issued a new I-20 by La Verne to begin a new La Verne program of studies
Call: (909) 448-4331
Last Updated: OISE 01/02/2018