Optional Practical Training (OPT) Checklist for International Students

Steps to Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  1. If you believe you are eligible for OPT, please make an appointment with the Office of International Student Advising to discuss the application process.
  2. Give the following completed forms to the international student advisor:
    • ENMU OPT Authorization Request Form
    • OPT Agreement
    • Copy of I-94
  3. The International Student Advisor will not issue an OPT Request in SEVIS and print a new I-20 until you provide all three forms.
  4. Gather all of the necessary immigration documents and supporting materials which must be mailed to USCIS:
    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Copy of form I-94
    • Copies of the name and photo page of the passport and visa page
    • Copies of all I-20 forms that you have been issued
    • Copies of any previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
    • Two recent, identical passport photographs
    • The required fee (https://www.uscis.gov/feecalculator) payable to "Department of Homeland Security" (Don't know how to write a check? Visit Immihelp Check Writing Tips)
    • New I-20 with OPT Request (schedule a meeting with the international advisor to get the updated I-20 with the OPT Request)
  5. Make copies of all application materials for your own records.
  6. File the form I-765 and supporting documents as listed in Item 3 with USCIS according to where you live.

Mail Your Completed OPT Application Packet

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries

USCIS Chicago Lockbox
PO Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries

Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Important OPT Reminders

  • If you are applying for pre-completion OPT, you can file the I-765 form up to 90 days before being enrolled for a full academic year, as long as the OPT will not begin until after you have completed a full academic year. If you already have been enrolled for a full academic year, you can file the I-765 form up to 120 days prior to your requested OPT start date.
  • If you are applying for post-completion OPT, you can file the I-765 form up to 90 days before your program end date and no later than 60 days after your program end date.
  • The I-765 form must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the date your international advisor made the OPT recommendation in SEVIS.
  • If you move to a new location, or if there is a change of address, you are required to provide USCIS with your new address. If the you fail to do this, your EAD will be returned to USCIS. To make changes, submit an Online AR-11 form to USCIS and ask the international advisor to update SEVIS.
  • OPT employment must be directly related to your major field of study and you should only begin work with your EAD card in hand. I-20s will be terminated if you are found to be engaging in employment not related to your major field of study.
  • F-1 students are dependent upon full-time employment or volunteer services while on post-completion OPT. You cannot accrue more than 90 days of unemployment while on post-completion OPT. If this occurs, you need to consult with the international advisor immediately.


If a your application is approved, the USCIS will change the status of the your record to 'approved' through an interface with SEVIS, including the date you are authorized for OPT. You will also receive the authorized EAD card from USCIS. An automatic SEVIS alert from SEVIS will let you know when your application has been approved. Your SEVIS record remains active for the duration of your OPT extension, plus 60 days.


If a your application is denied, USCIS updates it in the your SEVIS record by changing the application status to 'denied.' You will also receive notice of denial from the USCIS. You won't be able to work without an approved EAD in all cases.

For More Information

Office of International Programs
ENMU Station 2
1500 S Ave K
Portales, NM 88130
800.FOR.ENMU (800.367.3668)
Phone: 575.562.4697