UCI International Center

OPT Application Instructions

Section 1

Step 1: Request OPT Recommendation from International Center

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) I-20 Request Form
    • This form must be completed by you and your academic department.
  • Review OPT Presentation
    • You will receive a receipt after viewing this presentation. You will need to print the email receipt to include with your request.
  • Submit Post-Completion Administrative Fee Payment Receipt
  • I-94 Document
    • Print a copy of your most recent I-94 document
  • If summer will be your final quarter, you must also submit proof of summer enrollment (Example: email confirmation from UCI Summer Session or screenshot of your study list)

Step 2: Upload Your Request for an OPT I-20

Step 3: Receive your OPT I-20 

  • Your application will be reviewed by an International Student Advisor, after review of your application, you will receive a new I-20 with an OPT Recommendation on Page 2. Your I-20 visa document will be sent electronically via DocuSign. 
    • Review Page 1 of your I-20 and look at the Program End Date on your I-20, this should reflect as your final quarter of enrollment at UCI.
    • Review the OPT Recommendation on Page 2 of your I-20.
  • Review Processing Times
    • *Processing times may be longer if application requires additional review/updates during processing period. 

Step 4: Prepare Your Application for USCIS

  • Choose one method to submit your OPT application to USCIS:
  • Go to https://myaccount.uscis.gov/ to log in or sign up for a USCIS online account
  • Access the I-765 application by selecting “File a Form Online”
  • Choose Application for Employment Authorization (I-765) and follow instructions on the USCIS website and OPT Presentation in Step 1
  • The payment amount for the application will be generated automatically based on your responses on the application.
    • Payments can be made from your checking/savings account or credit/debit card
    • See the fee schedule for I-765 filing here.
  • Once you submit your application you can no longer go back and edit your responses.

(as listed in online filing system)


2” x 2” Passport Photo


  • Upload your most recent I-94.

Employment Authorization Document

  • Upload your previous EAD card.
  • If you have never been issued an EAD card, then upload a photocopy of your valid passport biographical page or most recent F-1 visa.

Previously authorized CPT or OPT

  • Upload any I-20(s) showing CPT or OPT authorization
    and/or Upload any prior EAD cards

*If you have not previously done OPT or CPT, you can leave this blank

Form I-20

  • Upload all 3 pages of your new I-20 (showing OPT recommendation on page 2)
  • Make sure to sign the I-20 on page 1
  • Where to mail your OPT Application: go to the USCIS website and choose "Foreign Students" to find your category description and corresponding filing location.
  • Arrange your documents in the following order:



Fee Payment

  • Include your form of payment (check, money order, credit card) payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. See the fee schedule for I-765 filing.

2” x 2” Passport Photo


  • This form is optional. Use this form to request text/email notifications from USCIS.


  • Typed, printed, and signed in BLACK ink.

Photocopy of Passport

  • Include a photocopy of the biographical page of your passport

Photocopy of Visa

  • Include a photocopy of your most recent F-1 visa


  • Get your most recent I-94

Form I-20(s)

  • Photocopy of your new I-20 (showing OPT STEM recommendation on page 2)
  • If you were ever previously approved for CPT or OPT, also include a copy of the I-20’s which show the CPT/OPT recommendation on page 2
  • Make sure to sign and date all I-20’s on page 1

*If applicable:


  • If you applied and were received an EAD card for OPT in the past, include a copy of the EAD card with your application.
  • If you have changed your status to F-1 inside of the U.S., include a copy of the I-797 Approval Notice and I-94 document.

Step 5: Submit Your OPT Application to USCIS

  • USCIS must receive your OPT Application within 30 days of the issuance of your OPT I-20.
  • It is recommended to keep a copy of your application for your records.
  • For information regarding the USCIS Premium Processing Option, read below. The International Center highly recommends applying early and to use premium processing only if necessary for your individual situation.
    • Beginning March 6, 2023, USCIS began phasing in premium processing for F-1 students seeking OPT and STEM OPT extensions. Premium processing is submitted through Online Filing of USCIS Form I-907 and is available to F-1 students in categories (c)(3)(B), and (c)(3)(C).  Premium processing provides expedited processing services within 30 calendar days. This is a non-refundable fee and can only be submitted at the time of your application to USCIS. Before you seek out this option, check USCIS's current processing times.

Step 6: Wait for USCIS to Adjudicate Your Request

  • I-797C Receipt Notice:
    • If you filed online:
      • Immediately after applying, your online application will show a case number on the confirmation screen. This case number can be used to track the progress of your application on the USCIS Website.
      • USCIS will also mail you a paper I-797 Receipt Notice within 2-4 weeks of receiving your application.
    • If you filed by mail:
      • USCIS will mail you an I-797 Receipt Notice within 2-4 weeks of receiving your application.
      • Your I-797 will have a case number, which can be used to track the progress of your application on the USCIS Website
  • I-797C Approval Notice/Employment Authorization Card (EAD):
    • If your OPT application is approved, you will receive an I-797C Approval Notice/Employment Authorization Card (EAD) to your mailing address.

Step 7: Reporting Requirements

  • OPT students are required to report new employment or changes to employment within 10 days of the change to maintain F-1 status reporting requirements. Click here for information about how to update employment during your OPT period.