Office of Global Services

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is for undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or who have been pursuing their degrees and are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for, at most, 12 months or up to an additional 24 months with an extension on a student visa for practical training in their field of study.

All students must complete the tutorial and certificate through Blackboard before the Office of Global Services (OGS) will accept your OPT application.

For more information regarding OPT and to begin the application process, please review the Office of Global Services OPT Tutorial in Blackboard.

OPT I-20 Application Process

OPT Tutorial pdf (161.17 KB)
  1. Review the Office of Global Services OPT Tutorial on Blackboard. To access and self-enroll in the course, please use the instructions found above.
  2. Complete the OPT Tutorial quiz and save a copy of your certificate of completion.
  3. Pay the $100 OPT administrative fee within the ISSS request.
  4. Submit an "Initial OPT Request (12 Months)" within the ISSS Portal. As part of your request, you will be asked to provide your Academic Advisor's details for them to complete an electronic confirmation.

Spring 2024 OPT Workshops

Workshops will be done virtually and in-person for the Spring 2024 semester. The dates for the virtual sessions relisted below.

Spring 2024 Workshop Schedule, VIRTUAL:

Spring 2024 OPT Workshops

When to Apply for OPT

Final IIT Enrolled Semester/Degree Conferral DateFirst Day to Submit I-20 Request to the Office of Global ServicesEarliest date to apply with USCIS for EADLast date to apply to USCIS for EAD (this is the day your application must reach the USCIS Lockbox)

Spring 2024 Semester

Saturday, May 11th, 2024

Thursday, February 1st, 2024Monday, February 12th, 2024Wednesday, July 10th, 2024

UPDATE: Increased Filing Fee for OPT and STEM OPT

On January 30, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a Final Rule to adjust fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit applications, effective April 1st, 2024. As indicated in the announcement, USCIS is almost entirely funded by the application fees, and as such, periodic, comprehensive fee reviews are required by law.

A copy of the full USCIS Final Rule is available here.

USCIS has also posted a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, which includes a summary of the rule and a full New Fee Schedule Table, here.

In addition to updates in the USCIS application fees, there will be updated versions of the application forms for each filing type that will be released in the same timeline. USCIS will use the postmark date of a filing to determine which form version and fees are correct, and will use the receipt date of the application for any regulatory or statutory filing deadlines.

For Illinois Tech’s F-1 international students and scholars, the following are some common USCIS applications filed and the updated fee costs (effective April 1, 2024):

  • Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (e.g. F-1 Optional Practical Training, F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training Extension, J-2 work permission):
    • The Online Filing fee (F-1 OPT, STEM OPT Extension) will increase from $410 to $470
    • The Paper Filing (F-1 OPT, STEM OPT Extension; J-2 work permission) will increase from $410 to $520
  • Form I-539 Change or Extension of Nonimmigrant Status (e.g. including changes to F-1 or J-1, F-1 to F-2, J-1 to J-2, change from F-1/J-1 to B-2, change to or extension of H-4 status, etc.):
    • Online Filing will increase from$370 to $420
    • Paper Filing will increase from $370 to $470.

When filing an application with USCIS, it is important to check the filing instructions on the USCIS website for the Form type you are filing; including verification of the correct version of the application Form (if filing by paper application), confirmation of the correct application fee(s), and to confirm the correct mailing address for USCIS based on the Form type if you will be filing the application by mail either through the U.S. Postal Service or by an Express Mail Courier Services (such as FedEx, UPS).

UPDATE: Premium Processing, Form I-907 Available

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) can now file Form I-907 “Request for Premium Processing Service”  (via paper or online) if filing under the pre-completion, post-completion and the STEM extension categories. For the full news release, please visit the USCIS website.

Premium processing reduces the processing time down to 30 business days in which the applicant will receive a decision from USCIS. The filing fee for Form I-907 is $1,500 if you are filing for a Form I-765 with eligibility category (C)(3)(A), (C)(3)(B), or (C)(3)(C). Please note, the $1500 premium processing fee is in addition to the Form I-765 application fee.

USCIS announces inflation adjustment to premium processing fees. Effective February 26, 2024, the $1,500 premium processing fee for Form I-765 will increase to $1,685. For the full news release, please visit the USCIS website.

As an applicant, you are not required to choose premium processing, nor is the Office of Global Services or Illinois Institute of Technology stating you must use Premium Processing for your OPT or STEM OPT applications.

Regarding Form G-1450

Form G-1450 allows for students to make a payment with their applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using a credit card.

While we are not recommending one form of payment over another, there have been reported issues lately with students who have experienced rejections of their Optional Practical Training (OPT) application when using Form G-1450. For instance, if the credit card charge is denied or does not go through with the bank that issued the card, USCIS may reject the OPT application.

We encourage all students to pay attention to the details if and when you choose to use this form, or use an alternative way to make the payment to USCIS regarding your OPT and STEM OPT filing.

Other alternatives include submitting a personal check or a cashier’s check from your bank or by purchasing a money order and including one of these alternatives with your applications to USCIS.

OPT Processing Delays

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) occasionally experiences delays when processing Optional Practical Training (OPT) applications. While USCIS is expected to act on each case within 90 days, it can sometimes take longer.

What causes the USCIS OPT processing delays?
The cause of OPT processing delays is unclear. Processing times have always fluctuated due to the varying volume of applications (i.e., more applications around the spring semester graduation period and fewer applications in the summer) and changes in the number of USCIS officers assigned to process work authorization applications.

How can I track the case status of my OPT application?
You can track the current case status of your OPT application by entering your USCIS receipt number on its tracking website.

After applying for OPT, how long should I wait before trying to contact USCIS?
Please note that excessive contact with USCIS can actually slow down your OPT application processing time. It’s best to keep your contact with USCIS as minimal as possible. Visit the Office of Global Services website for guidance on when and how you can monitor your OPT application.

What does it mean if my case has been transferred?
The USCIS lockbox may transfer your case to another service center. This does not mean that anything is wrong with your case. These transfers occur in order to balance the volume of applications and reduce the effect of delays. When the USCIS lockbox sends your case to another service center, you will receive a notice with your receipt number.

What do I tell my employer? How can I explain the processing delay to them?
If the processing delay is going to affect your employment start date, keep your employer updated on what you have done to expedite the process. You should also explain to your employer that you can only start working after the start date on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card and after you receive the EAD card in the mail.

OPT Reporting Requirements

While on your Optional Practical Training (OPT) period, you are required to make reports to the Office of Global Services as part of maintaining your F-1 status. It is important that you follow these reporting requirements to avoid falling out of status.

Please see the link below to understand how these requirements affect you.

OPT Reporting Requirements