This page contains suggestions for students who have already applied to ISS for their OPT I-20. For information on OPT eligibility requirements, the different types of OPT, when to apply, and what to submit to ISS to request an OPT I-20, please visit our website.
We are optimistic that the new OPT online filing system will eventually be an improvement over the paper based filing process. However, there are still many unknowns and we are waiting for additional detail and a better understanding of how USCIS will process applications filed online. Until we have sufficient clarity, we will continue to recommend paper filing. We encourage you to create a USCIS online account and link your paper filed application to your account so you can enjoy many of the benefits of online filing, without the uncertainty.
We expect to continue to recommend paper filing for June 1 and August 31, 2021 graduates. At this time we hope to move forward with recommending online filing for February 1, 2022 graduates and STEM applications filed in early fall.
If you do choose to file online be aware that:
The USCIS must receive the following documents within 30 days of: 1) the issuance of your I-20 with OPT recommendation, AND 2) the signature on your Form I-765. Be sure to photocopy your entire OPT application for your personal records. It is extremely important to prepare your application carefully. Mistakes can result in a USCIS denial!
Visit the USCIS I-765 Direct Filing Address for the current lockbox mailing address. Be sure to click on "Foreign Students".
If you have any questions or concerns around this mailing option or need further assistance with shipment creation, pick up or delivery, please reach out directly to UEMS support team (firstname.lastname@example.org) for immediate assistance.
You should use a reliable, express delivery service (e.g. UPS, FedEx) to mail your application so you can track your application and its delivery. Please save your receipt.
ISS recommends that you use a mailing address on your Form I-765 where you can receive mail for 3-5 months after applying for OPT. However, if your mailing address changes after you submit your OPT application to USCIS, you must notify the USCIS, the Post Office and ISS of your change in address within 10 days of the change. Failure to notify USCIS and the Post Office in a timely manner could result in delays in receiving your EAD. To notify the USCIS, use their online Change of Address Form. If you move to a new address, you should also notify the US Postal Service (USPS) using their online form.
Historically, processing time at the USCIS was estimated to be approximately 12 weeks. However, processing times vary widely, depending on the time of year and workload at the Service Center to which you send your application. We encourage you to regularly review the processing times found on the USCIS website.
You cannot begin employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS and the “start date” printed on the EAD card is effective.
To maintain your F-1 status while on Post-Completion OPT, you must satisfy all of the following requirements:
To report employment or U.S. Address and contact information, login to the UB Global using your UBIT name and password. Enter your current residential address on the “Update OPT Student Contact Information” E-Form. Enter your employment information on the “Add or Update OPT Employment” E-Form.
If you previously reported employment to ISS and are no longer working for that employer, you must report your end date of employment. First enter your previous employer’s information on the “Add or Update OPT Employment” E-Form. Then, on the same E-Form, enter your new employment details.
Students on Post-Completion OPT may not exceed 90 days of unemployment during their 12 months of OPT. Therefore, you must report employment as soon as you start working and before you exceed 90 days of unemployment.
If you exceed 90 days of unemployment, the Department of Homeland Security could automatically terminate your SEVIS record in the future. This means that your F-1 status and employment authorization will no longer be valid and you will have to leave the U.S. immediately. Possible consequences to remaining in the U.S. after the 90-day deadline without a job include denial of future immigration benefits, accrual of unlawful presence, detention, deportation, etc.
There are various types of employment you may accept while on Pre-or Post-Completion OPT. Any employment you choose must be directly related to your program of study. You must also work at least 20 hours per week. When you report employment to ISS, you will be required to explain how your employment is directly related to your field of study.
Some of these employment options are not acceptable for students approved for the OPT STEM Extension. Therefore, we encourage you to also review our OPT STEM information to ensure that your employment choices will be appropriate into the future.
We recommend that all students keep documentation to prove that they were employed while on OPT. You can find a list of common documents used to prove employment for both paid and unpaid positions on our Maintaining Status While on OPT page. You will not be required to submit this proof of employment to UB, but it may be requested by USCIS if you are applying for future immigration benefits.
If you do not have employment yet or do not have health insurance coverage through your employer, you may be eligible to purchase the SUNY health insurance from the Student Medical Insurance Office. In order to enroll during OPT, there can be no interruption in your health insurance coverage. Application deadlines do apply. Contact the Student Medical Insurance Office for more information.
There are many factors to consider before deciding to travel while on OPT. Before making any travel plans, we recommend that you review our Travel While on OPT information. You should also check the Travel Endorsement Signature on page 2 of your OPT I-20. This signature is valid only for 6 months. It is only necessary to request a new signature if you are traveling outside the U.S. and your current signature is expiring. To request an updated I-20, log in to UB Global using your UBIT name and password, and click "Students Currently Approved for OPT", then "OPT Travel Validation Endorsement Request". Please submit your request at least 10 business days before you plan to leave the U.S.