In order to apply for Optional Practical Training take the following steps:

1. File an Intent to Graduate Form

If you are applying for post-completion OPT make certain you are on track to complete your degree this term and that you have filed an Intent to Graduate Form with the Registrar’s Office.

For pre-completion OPT (OPT during your program of study), this step is not required.

Before you apply: 

2. Request an I-20 Recommending OPT

Submit a Request for an OPT I-20 to the Office of International Student Affairs through Terra Dotta. 

  • Navigate to the Control Center
  • Select the icon for Optional Practical Training (OPT) Request
  • Follow the prompts to complete the form

On the form, indicate your preferred OPT start date. See dates ranges here.

For post-completion OPT, your requested OPT start date must be within 60 days of your program completion date. Keep in mind that it might take 2–3 months (and sometimes longer) for USCIS to adjudicate your application.

For pre-completion OPT, your requested start OPT date must be after you have completed one full year (two semesters) of U.S. based study in continuous lawful status.

3. Prepare a draft of your USCIS I-765 Application

Before your OISA appointment: you may wish to begin drafting your online I-765 application so that you can ask any questions about the form during your appointment.

However, do not submit your form until you have obtained and uploaded your OPT recommendation I-20 from OISA, as this is a required part of the online application. Submitting your form without all required documents could lead to denial of your application by USCIS.

To file your application electronically:

  • Go to
  • Select the option for "my USCIS" and create an account
  • Follow the prompts to complete your electronic I-765
    • Eligibility category:
      • Select (c)(3)(B) for Post-Completion OPT
    • Mailing address:
      • Be sure to use an address that will be valid for at least 3–4 months to ensure that your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) can be delivered to you.
      • Use the “in care of” (c/o) field if you will mail your card to a trusted friend or family member.
    • You will need to upload:
      • Electronic picture that meets US passport picture specifications
      • Copy of your most recent I-94
      • Copy of a government-issued identity document—a passport biographical page, past Employment Authorization Document, or other
      • Proof of any prior CPT (past I-20s) or prior OPT (past Employment Authorization Documents)
      • Required! Copy of your signed I-20 recommending OPT
  • The electronic application does not require you to upload all past I-20s 
  • The G-1145 is not required for electronic filing as you will receive electronic confirmation of submission
  • You can pay the $410 application fee by credit card

4. Schedule an OPT appointment with your OISA advisor

We recommend that you schedule an appointment with your OISA advisor to review your application before it is submitted. Schedule the appointment and then complete #3 and #4 below before your scheduled time.

After you have received your OPT I-20 from OISA:

5. Submit your USCIS I-765

Once you have completed your I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, including uploading of your OPT recommendation I-20 and all other required supporting documents, you will then submit your application electronically through your USCIS account.

Your OPT application must be filed during a specific timeframe. If your application is received before or after this window, the application will likely be denied. The complete application must be filed:

  • No later than 30 days after the I-20 with OPT recommendation is issued to you by an OISA advisor 
  • No sooner than 90 days prior to your program completion date
  • No later than 60 days after your program end date (Note: Filing an application after your program end date — while permitted — is not recommended as you will likely lose OPT eligibility time due to the months it will take for USCIS adjudication)

A note about OISA assistance with your application: As you prepare your application for OPT, an Emerson Designated School Official (DSO) may review your Form I-765 and point you to resources to assist you in completing this form. However, OISA advisors are not attorneys and are not authorized to serve as an “Interpreter” or “Preparer” as referenced on the form. Students requiring additional assistance to complete the form are advised to seek legal advice from a reputable immigration attorney.