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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students wishing to extend their F-1 student visa status and participate in the OPT or STEM OPT employment benefit will need to submit a completed application to USCIS. Remember, OPT is only for employment that is directly related to your field of study.

Post-completion OPT Process

  1. Meet with Student Services Coordinator to discuss OPT application process 30 days or more prior to defense date.
  2. Notify Student Services Coordinator/DSO of termination date (agreed upon by student and P.I.)
  3. Student Services Coordinator/DSO will notify you when your new I-20 is available for pick up.
  4. Pick up your new OPT I-20 and sign it.
  5. Make a copy of your complete application.
  6. Mail your complete application and required documents to USCIS**
  7. USCIS will notify you when your I-765 (OPT) application has been received. You can then track the status using the case status search feature on the USCIS website. If you submitted a form G-1145, you will receive email alerts regarding your application.
  8. USCIS will approve or deny your OPT. If it is approved, your Employment Authorization (EAD) Card will be mailed to you in approx. 1-3 months. 

When can I apply for OPT?

  • You can submit your completed application and documents to USCIS up to 30 days before your defense date and up to 60 days after your termination/program end date.
  • Within 30 days of the date recommended by the Student Services Coordinator/DSO in SEVIS.
  • We do not recommend that you travel prior to receiving OPT approval. However, if you must travel outside of the U.S. after your program end date, you must first speak with the Student Services Coordinator for further instruction.

Documents needed to submit a completed OPT application packet:

  • Copies of all I-20’s from current degree level
  • Copies of paper or print-out of electronic I-94 Record (LINK)
  • G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  • Original Form I-765 (competed, signed and dated)
  • Fee for I-765: $410 check made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

  1. Write “Three hundred eighty dollars”
  2. Write your date of birth and I-94 record number on the front of the check in the memo section.
  3. Do not write or sign the back of the check.
  4. Check must have correct name and address on upper left hand corner.
  5. Must be a U.S. check drawn from a U.S. bank but does not need to be your own account.

  • Two full-face passport-style phots. Photos must be identical and in color with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed with USCIS. Place photos in an envelope and attach the fee along with the envelope to the top of the application materials. Write your full name and I-94 record number on the back of each.
  • Photocopy of the new I-20 with OPT recommendation on it.
  • Photocopy of your passport photo page and most recent F-1 Visa page (except Canadians).

Steps to apply for STEM OPT Extension:

*You may not submit your STEM OPT application to USCIS sooner than 120 days (4 months) before the end date of your OPT. Doing so will result in automatic denial by USCIS.

  • Copies of all I-20’s from current degree level
  • All STEM OPT employers must be part of the “E-Verify” system.
  • Copies of paper or print-out of electronic I-94 Record (LINK)
  • G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  • Original Form I-765 (competed, signed and dated)
  • Fee for I-765: $410 check made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

    1. Write “Three hundred eighty dollars”
    2. Write your date of birth and I-94 record number on the front of the check in the memo section.
    3. Do not write or sign the back of the check.
    4. Check must have correct name and address on upper left hand corner.
    5. Must be a U.S. check drawn from a U.S. bank but does not need to be your own account.

  • Two full-face passport-style phots. Photos must be identical and in color with a plain background. They must be no more than 30 days old when the I-765 is filed with USCIS. Place photos in an envelope and attach the fee along with the envelope to the top of the application materials.
  • Photocopy of the new I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation on it.
  • Photocopy of your passport photo page and most recent F-1 Visa page (except Canadians).
  • Photocopy of current EAD card.
  • Proof of STEM eligible degree via Degree Verification from Registrar’s Office.

OPT reporting:

ALL STUDENTS on OPT are required to report any change of the following to the Student Services Coordinator/DSO within 10 days:

  • Legal name
  • Employer name
  • Employer address
  • Changes in employment
  • Personal contact information (for immigration purposes only)

** The Weill Cornell Graduate School does not recommend using the “e-file” option on the USCIS website to submit your application. We strongly suggest all I-765 applications are submitted in paper via U.S. Mail.

 

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Weill Cornell Medicine
Graduate School of Medical Sciences
1300 York Ave. Box 65 New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6565 Fax: (212) 746-5981