Completing the I-765 OPT Application for USCIS

Overview

The form I-765 is used to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) OPT. This form is part of the application process to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This guide explains how to complete an online filing of the form I-765.

Important, USCIS can make updates to the process, form, or contacts at any time. This is meant to be a guide, but the instructions at the USCIS form I-765 website ALWAYS take precedence.

Important, do not begin this process until you have received your updated form I-20 with a request for OPT or STEM OPT extension from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). USCIS may deny applications submitted without the updated form I-20.

Step One: Go to the I-765 Webpage and Begin the Form

Navigate to the USCIS form I-765 webpage and select the option to file online. You will need to create an account with USCIS if you do not have one.

Once you have logged into your USCIS account, select the “File a form online” option from your account.

Select the “I-765, Application for Employment Authorization” from the drop down menu.

Important, this guide is only for the filing of the following requests:

(c)(3)(B) - F-1 Post-Completion OPT or;

(c)(3)(C) - F-1 STEM Extension.

Do not use this guide for any other type of filing.

Step Two: Enter your Eligibility Category and Getting Started Information

You will need to enter your eligibility category to begin the form.

Choose:

(c)(3)(B) - Student Post-Completion OPT if you are applying for OPT because you are graduating or if you have completed the coursework portion of your Masters or Doctorate program.

(c)(3)(C) - STEM Extension if this is an extension of an OPT you have already applied for, and you meet the criteria for a STEM extension as stated by the Study in the States webpage.

If you do not know which category to choose, stop the form and schedule an appointment with your ISSS advisor using the information at https://utkisss.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/IPFP/pages/9109505.

Finish the Getting Started section and move on to the About You section.

Step Three: Enter your Biographical and Contact Information

In the About You section enter your legal name (as listed on the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) of your passport) and any other names associated with you. Enter your phone number and email address as well.

Enter you mailing and/or physical address.

Important, make sure that the mailing address you use is an address that will be accessible by you until the OPT approval process is complete. You cannot change your address easily once the approval process begins. If you need a mailing address to use, you can use the ISSS address as listed below:

In Care Of Name (If any): Center for Global Engagement

In Address line 1: 1620 Melrose Ave

City or Town: Knoxville

State: Tennessee

ZIP Code: 37996

Complete the rest of your biographical information in the About You section.

Step Four: Enter your Immigration Information

The next part of the About You section covers your immigration status. Enter your most recent Form I-94 number with the arrival information. You can get this form at the official Form I-94 website.

Important, make sure that you pull your most recent form I-94 record directly from the website. Using an old print out can lead to mistakes. This may not be possible if you received your Form I-94 as part of a change of status.

Enter the information from your passport into this section. Most F-1 students will not have a travel document. If you do not, you can leave this box blank.

Enter the country that issued your passport and select F-1 as your current immigration status. Enter your SEVIS ID found at the top of the page on the left hand side of your form I-20.

Enter your A-number if you have one. Typically, F-1 students will only have one of these if they have been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card in the past. Most F-1 student will not have a USCIS online account number.

Enter your Social Security Number (SSN) if you have one. You can also request to have one issued for you if you do not currently have one.

Step Five: Upload your Evidence

In the evidence section, upload a scan of your passport photo. Make sure that it meets the photo requirements listed at the Department of State Photo Requirements webpage.

Upload the form I-94 you downloaded in step four.

Upload any previously held EAD cards or upload a copy of your passport.

Upload scans of all I-20s with previously approved Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or OPT. You should upload the first and second page of each of these I-20s.

Upload a scan of your updated form I-20 with the OPT or STEM extension request on page two. This is an update too your I-20 issued to you by ISSS as part of the OPT or STEM extension process.

Important, USCIS may deny your application if you do not upload the I-20 with the correct request. In addition, this must be done within 30 days of issuance by ISSS.

To find the issuance date, look at the official signature section on page one of the I-20. In this example, the I-20 would need to have been submitted as part of a complete form I-765 within 30 days of September 20, 2022.

If you are requesting OPT using (c)(3)(B) - F-1 Post-Completion OPT, you will see this clearly indicated on the second page of your form I-20 as shown in the above example.

If you are requesting a STEM OPT extension through (c)(3)(C), you will see your Post-Completion OPT in Approved status and your STEM OPT in Requested status.

Important, If you do not see these indicators on your form I-20, you should contact your ISSS advisor for help.

STEM Extension applicants only: please note that in 99.99% of cases, it is not necessary to upload evidence of institution accreditation. On the online I-765 “Upload Your Evidence” section, you will notice the following statement:

THIS EVIDENCE IS ONLY REQUIRED IF APPLYING FOR STEM EXTENSION OPT BASED ON A PRIOR DEGREE PROGRAM.

Step Six: Review your Application and Submit

Review your application and resolve any alerts or warnings.

After reviewing your application, we recommend that you download a draft snapshot of your form I-765. This will be very helpful if there is an issue with your filing and you need ISSS to review your case.

Complete the acknowledgements, sign the form digitally, and you are ready to pay the filing fee at Pay.gov and submit your application.