Center for International Education

OPT FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions & Resources

When am I eligible to apply for post-completion OPT?

You must meet the following criteria:

  1. You are currently in F-1 status; And
  2. You have been studying full-time for at least 3 quarters (time spent in another visa status counts); And
  3. You are on track to graduate from UWB; And
  4. You have not exceeded 12 months of full-time CPT; And
  5. You are not in an English Language Program.

Do I need to have a job when I apply for OPT?

No.

How much does it cost to apply?

USCIS asks you to pay a filing fee when submitting your I-765. The fee is currently $410.

When can I apply?

CIE encourages you to apply around the beginning of your graduation quarter. The earliest you can apply is 90 days before your program end date. The latest you can apply is 60 days after your program end date.

What should I put as my OPT start date?

  • You must choose a date within 60 days after your program end date (typically the last day of exams).
  • If you are unsure of your program end date, please ask.
  • After you apply, you cannot change the start date.
  • Look at the calendar for weekends and public holidays.
  • The most common day to choose is a Monday.

Graduating Quarter

Eligible to apply for OPT

Program end date

First possible start date

Last possible start date

Winter 2022

12/19/2021

03/18/2022

03/19/2022

05/17/2022

Spring 2022

03/13/2022

06/10/2022

06/11/2022

08/09/2022

Summer 2022

05/22/2022

08/19/2022

08/20/2022

10/18/2022

Can I travel outside the US after I apply for OPT?

You can only travel outside the US during the academic quarter. When you have completed your degree, you will not be able to return to the US until:

  1. You have been approved for OPT
  2. You have your EAD (sent to your US address)
  3. You have employment

What do I need to return to the US if I travel on OPT?

  1. Your valid I-20 with the OPT recommendation and a travel endorsement.
  2. A valid F-1 visa.
  3. Your EAD.
  4. Proof of employment.

When will I know if my OPT application is approved?

USCIS will send you a notification via email and in the mail with your approval. This process used to take roughly 90 days. Approvals are now quicker with the online application.

What if I move before my application is approved?

Moving before your application is approved is risky because it can result in your EAD being lost in the mail or undelivered. To officially change your address, please login and use the USCIS account you used for your OPT application.

What if my EAD gets lost in the mail?

USCIS will proved you with a tracking number for the EAD. If it says it's delivered but you did not receive the card, you can use this USPS tool to help. In most cases, a lost EAD will mean filing another I-765 (paying another fee to USCIS). 

How long is the OPT authorization for?

You can ask for up to 12 months of work authorization.

When can I start working?

After your I-20 expires, you are not legally allowed to work until:

  1. You received your EAD; And
  2. Reached the OPT start date (as indicated on the EAD).

What if I haven’t found a job by my start date?

You have 90 days of unemployment to find a job. Your unemployment days begin counting on your start date. OPT Start date = Day 1.

What if I don’t find a job within 90 days of my start date?

You must leave the US before you reach the end of your 90 days of unemployment.

What are the minimum requirements for any work that I do during my OPT? 

All work that you do while on OPT must be related to your UWB degree (your major, NOT minor); And more than 20 hours per week. Employment that is not related to the major is a status violation.

Does my employment have to be paid?

No, it can be paid or unpaid/volunteer.

What Types of Employment are Acceptable for OPT? 

The following are acceptable forms of employment as long as the work is related to your major:

  • Regular paid employment: You can work for multiple employers.
  • Internships
  • Volunteer or unpaid opportunities: You need to be able to provide evidence about how it is related to your major and have evidence of the number of hours you volunteered.
  • Payment by multiple short-term employers: Keep a list of all short-term employment,  dates, and durations.
  • Work for hire: Employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. Have evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employed business owner: You can start a business and be self-employed. You must be able to prove that you have the proper business licenses and are actively engaged in a business related to your major.
  • Employment through an agency: You must be able to provide evidence showing how many hours you worked through the agency.

How do I find work?

The following links from the UWB Career Center might be helpful: