International Student Services

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is 12-month work authorization available to F-1 international students who have been full-time students for at least two consecutive semesters and plan to seek employment in the United States in their field of study.

To apply and receive this benefit, students must follow the application procedure and timeline prescribed by USCIS, the U.S. government office which adjudicates applications for OPT.

To apply for OPT, you must obtain an I-20 recommending you for it from a Designated School Official. To receive this I-20, you must submit the following:

Review the sections below to learn more about the OPT application process. For a quick overview, see our OPT Checklist and Spring 2022 Presentation

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for post-completion OPT, you must:

  • Be a UT Tyler student in valid F-1 status.
  • Be in your final semester prior to graduation OR have graduated and have enough time left in your post-graduation 60-day grace period to send and have USCIS receive your completed I-765 OPT application on or before the 60th day.
  • Will have completed a minimum of a year of full-time, non-language training studies, upon graduating, at an SEVP-approved post-secondary institution, i.e., one that issues their own I-20s, including your final semester at UT Tyler.
  • Application procedure and timing (how early and late to apply) considerations are discussed in greater detail in the Program End Date note below.

Procedure to Obtain Your OPT Request I-20 from UT Tyler

  • Submit your completed OPT I-20 Request form
    • You may choose any OPT start date on our OPT I-20 Request form that is between 1 and 60 days after your Program End Date. For example, if your graduation is April 30, you may chose any date between May 1 – June 29 as your opt start date. 
  • Pay the $50 OPT Administrative Fee (Instructions)

Recommended Steps for Completing the I-765 Application Online

  1. Create your online USCIS account: 
  2. Gather the following documents:
    1. Digital 2x2 color passport photo with white background
    2. A scan of your passport photograph page
    3. A scanned copy of your visa
    4. A scan of the front and back of any previous EAD cards (if applicable)
    5. A digital copy of your I-20 with OPT recommendation
      1. Must be issued within the last 30 days for post-completion OPT. You MUST consult with OIP to receive a new I-20 before filing for your OPT online.
      2. The I-20 must be signed by an advisor at OIP and by you.
    6. Your most recent form I-94.
      2. Select “Get Most Recent Form I-94”
  3. A credit card with which you can pay the filing fee
  4. File a form online
    1. Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)
    2. Select (c) (3) (b)

Please note the following timelines: you can submit your I-765 no earlier than 90 days before your program end date. The deadline to submit your I-765 is the last day of your 60-day grace period. Applying outside these dates can result in an automatic denial from USCIS.

You will receive an I-797C Notice of Receipt as soon as you successfully submit your online OPT application. The receipt number in this notice allows you to track your case status using USCIS CASE STATUS ONLINE.

You will receive an email from SEVP Portal with instructions on creating an account on the start date of your OPT. The SEVP Portal is an important tool where F-1 students on OPT must report the following within 10 days: 

  • Update their physical home address.
  • Update their mailing addresses.
  • Update their telephone numbers.
  • Update employer information.
  • Monitor their employment authorization.

If you do not receive the link by the start date of your OPT, please contact our office so we can reset your account. It is very important that you report and update all information listed above within the 10 days of the change.

Maximum Unemployed Days

  • You have a total of 90 days of unemployment for the whole OPT duration as printed on your EAD.
  • Days of unemployment start on the OPT Start Date on your OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Once you have 91 or more days of unemployment SEVP can terminate your record at any time. If that occurs you are out of status.

The main things to remember are that all OPT employment must be in a job that is related to your degree program AND you must work on average at least 20 hours per week. This employment may include any or all of the following (Please note, the information below does not apply to students on STEM OPT):

Paid Employment

Students authorized for post-completion OPT may work part-time or full-time as long as the total employment averages at least 20 hours or more per week.

Multiple Employers

You may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to your degree program.

Short-Term Multiple Employers (for performing artists)

If you are a musician, other performing artist, or you are doing other creative projects, you may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). You should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by the government, you must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.

Work for Hire

Work for hire means that an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by the government, you must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.

Self-employed business owner

Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, you must work full time. You must be able to prove that you have the proper business licenses and are actively engaged in a business related to your degree program.

Employment through an Agency

Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.

Unpaid Employment

Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate labor laws.The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that you worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.