Immigration Advising

Optional Practical Training - How to Apply

Step I
Meet with an ISFO advisor to discuss your options for practical training and the authorization dates you are seeking. Get an OPT packet; complete the Form I-765 and secure the needed documents and other materials. There is usually an OPT Workshop scheduled every Thursday afternoon from 2-4 p.m. in Williston Hall 400 at which time Dawn will review your completed documents with all needed copies below and answer your questions. Please register with Dawn for the workshop.

  • Cashier's check, money order, or personal check only for $380.00 (payable to "Department of Homeland Security"). USCIS will "electronically" debit your account upon receipt.
  • Completed Form I-765, with the answer to #16 marked (c) (3) (B) for post-completion OPT or (c) (3) (C) for OPT Extension.
  • Internal Application for CPT/OPT (for ISFO Use only)
  • Two (2) color photos with a white background taken no earlier than 30 days before submission to INS. They should be unmounted; on thin paper, glossy; and unretouched. Your head should be bare unless you are wearing a headdress as required by a religious order to which you belong. The photos should not be larger than 2 X 2 inches, with the distance from the top of the head to just below the chin about 1" to 1 3/8 inches. Eye height is between 1-1/8" to 1-3/8" from bottom of photo. Lightly print your I-94# and name on the back of each photo with a pencil.
  • Photocopy of I-94 card (front and back even if there is nothing written on the back)
  • Photocopy of any previous EADs (Employment Authorization Document---if applicable)
  • Photocopy of passport pages (picture and visa page)
  • Photocopy of any previous I-797 Approval Notices (if applicable)
  • Photocopy of any I-20's which show CPT (Curricular Practical Training) authorization
  • Your Academic Advisor needs to sign the bottom of the OPT Application form confirming your program completion (for ISFO Use only)

Step II

After Dawn reviews all these documents an ISFO advisor will evaluate them. If everything is in order, the advisor will then create a new SEVIS I-20, indicating that you have been recommended for Optional Practical Training. Please check with Dawn for your pick-up time to collect your documents back in order to mail them to the address below.

Step III

Once your have obtained the updated SEVIS I-20 from ISFO, make a copy of all the documents listed above (to keep in your file) and of the I-20. THEN YOU NEED TO MAIL ALL THE DOCUMENTS, including the COPY of the I-20 (not the original), to USCIS by overnight express such as FedEx or UPS (so that you will be able to track it to confirm that USCIS has received it). Remember to retain your original I-20.

Please express mail your documents to the left address (and track it to make sure it arrives):

USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034
If using the U.S. Postal Service
(U.S.P.S.) deliveries go to:
USCIS
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85035

All F1 students are required to inform the International Student and Faculty Office of any address changes within ten days and must also keep ISFO informed of all current employer's information (name and address). Failure to do so might cause USCIS to terminate your SEVIS record. You may update your information on-line at the OPT Information Update. (www.niu.edu/isfo/forms)

Traveling after applying for OPT can be risky unless you have a job offer letter from an appropriate employer (one in your field of study). If your application for the EAD has not yet been approved, you should be able to reenter the US using your existing visa, I-20, and Receipt Notice (I-797) for your EAD application. However, your application for OPT could be adjudicated while you are outside the US, and in that case you might not be allowed to reenter the US. If you do have a job offer letter from an appropriate employer, please ask ISFO to review your file for a travel signature before you leave the US. If your visa has expired, you may have problems in applying for a new one. Remember: there are no guarantees with Immigration!