Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit available to those in valid F-1 student status. It is 12 months of work authorization granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to F-1 students for the purpose of gaining practical experience directly related to their program of study. The website of Office of Global Services (OGS) provides F-1 students with very detailed information about OPT rules and eligibility. I combined my own experience about applying OPT with the information on the OGS website to share some tips with you, which might be helpful when you apply for your OPT.

© Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

At the beginning of your last semester at Northeastern, you will receive an email from your program coordinator about Certification of Program Completion. If you intend to apply for OPT, please fill out this form as requested and submit it to the front desk of 130 Snell Engineering on time, which would be important for your OPT application

According to related regulations, you can apply for OPT no earlier than 90 days prior to program completion date (End date on I-20) and no later than 60 days after program completion date. Note that the date of submitting OPT application has nothing to do with OPT start date. Even though you might want to choose a later OPT start date, you can still start applying for it early. You will be able to choose OPT start date during the online application process. Since USCIS generally requires about 100 days to process the application and you cannot work until you receive your EAD card, it would be recommended to submit the application earlier no matter what OPT start date you want to choose.

In order to apply for OPT, you must obtain OPT recommendation by OGS first. Moreover, the OPT recommendation would be only valid for 30 days. It takes 10 business days for OGS to process the OPT recommendation, during which you can prepare related documents as listed on the OGS website in advance so that you can mail all documents immediately once you get your new I-20.

OGS website has very detailed instructions about how to fill out related forms like I-765 and G-1145. For students who don’t have personal bank check, you can go to the bank to ask for a money order, which is very convenient.

Note that while you are on OPT, you still need to apply for travel signature through Office of Global Services for travelling. What is different is that the travel signature would be only valid for 6 months while on OPT instead of 12 months as before.

Hope this blog would help you know more about OPT application process and all the best for your career path at Northeastern University.

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