International: OPT

Office of Global Engagement
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OPT program allows qualifying students hands on experience complementary to their major area of study. Students may take advantage of OPT for a maximum of 12 months cumulatively. If a student enrolls in a new academic program of a higher level (master’s after bachelor’s degree, or PhD after master’s) the student will become eligible for a new 12 month OPT cycle. Certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degree holders may be eligible for a 17 month extension of OPT period in addition to the 12 month pre-/post-completion OPT period.

Please be advised:

  • OPT must be directly related to student’s major area of study
  • OPT may not exceed 12 months of Full-Time work. Part-Time OPT will accumulate at a 50% rate, where 6 months of Part-Time OPT is equivalent to 3 months of available OPT
  • Students MUST find employment within 90 days of being approved for OPT to maintain legal status
  • Students may begin their employment only after they receive an approved Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Eligibility Requirements

Pre-Completion OPT Post-Completion OPT
  • Student must have completed at least 1 year of Full Time academic study
  • Student must be in status
  • OPT must be directly related to student’s major area of study
  • Student must work Part Time while school is in session
  • Student may work Full Time when school is not in session
  • Student must have completed his/her degree of study
  • OPT must be directly related to student’s major area of study
  • If a student decides to use all 12 months of OPT on Post-completion he/she must use them all at once, not in separate periods of time

When to Apply:

Pre-Completion OPT

  • Students may apply as early as 90 days before being enrolled at Stockton University Full Time for one academic year, as long as OPT employment start date is after the one full time academic year requirement
  • If one full time academic year requirement has been met students may apply 120 days before requested OPT start date

Post-Completion OPT

  • Students may apply as early as 90 days before their program’s end date indicated on the student’s I-20
  • Students who have completed their degree programs may apply up to 60 days after their program end date (during the grace period)

Remember: USCIS must receive and accept the Post-Completion OPT application no later than 60 days after student’s program completion date. If Post-Completion OPT application is received after the 60 day grace period student will automatically fall out of status and will have to leave the US. It is STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY to allow the Office of Global Engagement adequate time to process the OPT application and submit it to USCIS office.

Application Process:

1. Complete OPT Request Form
2. Complete Form I-765 (Consult with the  ISO advisor prior to filing)

  • Pre-Completion OPT (c) (3) (A) under Item 16
  • Post-Completion OPT (c) (3) (B) under item 16
  • 17 month STEM extension (c) (3) (C) under section 16
  • Print legibly in blue ink
  • Check off “I am applying for” section of EAD
  • Remember to sign in blue ink within the designated box

3.  I-765 Application Fee of $380 (check or money order only) payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

4. Provide immigration documents:

  • Photocopy of passport (photo page, visa page, renewal page if original has expired, and pages showing amendments such as name changes, corrections etc.)
  • Two US passport-style photos
  • Photocopy of most recent Form I-94
  • Photocopy of pages 1 and 3 of all previous and current I-20s, including a copy of the new OPT I-20
  • Photocopy of any previously issued EAD’s

Office of Global Engagement will review your application and if all forms are filled out correctly and you qualify, we will issue a new Form I-20. You must sign the new Form I-20. Office of Global Engagement will then send your EAD application for processing.

Remember: Generally,USCIS will require 90 days to process your EAD request and send your Employment Authorization Card to the Office of Global Engagement. Please schedule beginning and ending OPT dates accordingly and remember that you may not begin your OPT work until you receive the EAD card.

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