Employment for F-1 and J-1 students is limited, and working without permission is a violation of status and a deportable offense. F-1 and J-1 students may not work off-campus without permission from International Student and Scholar Advising (ISSA).  On-Campus Employment is permitted with certain restrictions. Students must complete employment paperwork with ISSA in order to work on-campus. A Social Security number is required for anyone receiving payment. ISSA can assist you with this process.

ISSA offers workshops every semester which explain the different types of off-campus work permission available to F-1 and J-1 students.

Post-Completion OPT

While pre- and post-completion use the same available 12 months, post-completion can be used in the following situations:

  • After all degree requirements are met, except thesis
  • After completion of program of study (at the end of the semester in which the student defended the thesis)

For undergraduate students and those without a thesis or dissertation requirement, program completion is based on graduation unless the student obtains a letter from the Graduate School indicating an earlier completion date

For graduate students with a thesis or dissertation requirement, please click here for information about program end date.

When you are eligible to apply:

  • No earlier than 90 days from program end date
  • No later than 60 days after the program end date

When you are eligible to work

  • When you have your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) in hand
  • After the approved start date on your EAD card

NOTE: You cannot continue on-campus employment beyond the expiration date on page 1 of the I-20

Application Process

  • Request the recommendation for OPT I-20 by completing the OPT eForm.  Your academic adviser must complete the adviser portion of the eForm, informing us of your graduation date before ISSA can issue your new I-20.  If you have a second major, you must also obtain a letter from the academic adviser for your second major which confirms the completion of that program. ISSA generally requires 10 business days to process all applications for OPT although during peak periods times it may take longer.
  • Make sure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives your OPT application within 30 days from the issue date of the new OPT recommended I-20 AND before the end of your 60 day grace period.  ISSA does not approve OPT applications nor can we speed up or otherwise intervene in the process by the government.  It is also very difficult to cancel an application once it has been mailed to USCIS, so confirm your plans before you apply.
  • Send the following documents to USCIS:
  1. Check or money order for $410 made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The filing fee can be paid by a credit card on a U.S. bank using form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.  [Note: See the Alerts section of our website for important information regarding the I-765 form version and filing fee.]
  2. Two passport photos taken within the past 30 days.  Your photos should be taken by a professional photographer and must meet Department of State requirements. Lightly write your name and I-94 number in pencil on the back. It works best to apply a piece of clear tape and write on the tape. Put the photos in an envelope and write your name and I-94 number on the envelope.
  3. Completed G-1145.
  4. Completed I-765 with (c) (3) (B) entered in #27.  [Note: See the Alerts section of our website for important information regarding the I-765 form version and filing fee.]
  5. Photocopy of the OPT I-20.
  6. Photocopy of previous CPT and OPT I-20s (if applicable).
  7. Photocopy of I-20s with previous SEVIS number (If applicable). All other I-20s not required but recommended.
  8. Photocoy of Passport Biographical page (picture and data).
  9. Photocopy of most recent visa.
  10. A photocopy of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
  11. Photocopy of any previously-issued EAD (Employment Authorization Document).

Where to send OPT application

Mail your documents based on your address listed on the I-765 Form, which should be valid for at least the next 90 days. Click here for more information on where to file I-765 Form.


  • You must mail the OPT application to USCIS within 30 days of when the OPT I-20 was issued.
  • Make sure ISSA receives a copy of your EAD card when it arrives.
  • Update your employment status information and your personal address on the OPT in iStart within 10 days of any change.
  • You cannot continue to work on-campus beyond the expiration date on the I-20 until you get the EAD card and then only in your field of study.


Travel re-entry signatures are required within 6 months of travel.

An F-1 student who has an I-20 with an OPT recommendation and a travel signature less than 6 months old may return to the United States to resume employment. Students need to present their valid passport, valid visa, OPT I-20, valid EAD card, and job offer letter or pay stub to the officer at the port of entry. Students who do not have a job to return to may or may not be allowed entry at the discretion of the port of entry officer. Students on OPT may apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. consulate if their visa has expired. Click here for more information on travel