Post-completion OPT Application

1. Start and end date

Choosing your OPT start date is often one of the most difficult decisions. Keep in mind that you are not required to have a job before applying, nor is it expected that you will immediately have a job. Nonetheless, you must still choose a start date for your 12-months of employment.

Start Date

  • The start date must be within 60 days of your program end date (final day of exams for your graduating quarter).
  • You cannot change your start date after applying.
  • The date you request may be altered by USCIS.
    • This only usually happens if your application is not authorized by your requested start date.
  • If you choose a later start date but find employment sooner, you must inform you employer that you cannot begin working until your authorized start date.

End Date

  • If you have not used Pre-completion OPT, your end date will be entered by ISS staff. It will be 12 months minus one day from your requested start date.
    • For example:
      • Start date: 01/10/2024
      • End date: 01/09/2025
  • If you have used Pre-completion OPT, that time must be subtracted from your end date. Please contact so we can help you work out your end date.

2. Post-completion OPT recommendation

Request your recommendation at the international student portal. In 3 – 5 days, you will receive a new I-20 with a Post-completion OPT recommendation on the second page.

  • This document is required to apply for Post-completion OPT.
  • Requesting this I-20 will verify your intent to complete your program of study.
    • Your program end date will be shortened (if not already accurate) to match the end of your graduating quarter.
  • The Post-completion OPT recommendation is only valid for 30 days.

3. Form I-765

Form I-765 can be submitted online at

  • You can only submit an I-765 after receiving a Post-completion OPT recommendation on your I-20. Submitting Form I-765 without a Post-completion OPT recommendation will result in a denial.
  • You must submit an I-765 within 30 days of the Post-completion OPT recommendation issue date. Submitting Form I-765 more than 30 days after the I-20 issue date will result in a denial.
  • You are responsible for correctly filing Form I-765 with USCIS. ISS can assist you with questions, but filing Form I-765, verifying your uploaded documents, and paying the I-765 filing fee are solely your responsibility.
  • Make sure you file Form I-765 under category C3B (Post-completion OPT).

4. Waiting for authorization

After filing Form I-765, you must wait for your authorization. The average time is 90 days.

  • If your program end date arrives, you will be in a pending stage and should take the following into consideration.
    • You can remain in the US while your Form I-765 is pending.
    • We do not recommend travelling outside the US. You will not be able to re-enter the US without authorization.
  • If you receive a request for evidence from USCIS, inform ISS and respond to USCIS.
    • Typically, these requests can be fulfilled by uploading additional documents to your pending application.

5. Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

  • After approval, you will be sent an EAD.
  • You cannot start working until you receive the EAD.
  • The EAD can take 1 – 2 weeks to arrive.
  • Use the USPS tracking number you receive from USCIS to make sure your EAD arrives.
  • If your EAD is lost in the mail, please inform ISS immediately.

It doesn’t end here! Make sure you read how to maintain your OPT on our requirements and FAQ page.