Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  • Temporary employment directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study
  • A benefit for F-1 visa holders who have successfully completed a degree program within the United States

Students who meet the eligibility requirements for OPT can submit an application to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services for 12 months of Post-Completion OPT immediately following degree completion.

Students who earned a degree in a STEM field may also be eligible for a 24-month STEM extension of their initial OPT period.

Learn more about OPT (PDF)

Spring 2021 OPT info session (PDF)

12-Month Post-Completion OPT

  • Valid F-1 visa status, I-20, passport and I-94
  • Completed at least one full academic year
  • Expect to graduate at the time of application (you may continue to be enrolled in a thesis or dissertation course)
  • Cannot have completed 365 days of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • You do not need to have already received an employment offer to apply

Types of employment and documentation (PDF)

Congratulations! You may begin working once you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card and are within the approved employment dates printed on the card. 

  • If you used ISAO’s office address for your application, we will notify you at your UMKC email account as soon as we receive your card in the mail, and we will also prepare an updated I-20 showing your extension approval.
  • If your card was mailed to you directly and you would like an updated I-20, please submit a Request for Documents form along with a copy of the front and back of your EAD card to by Secure Document Upload in your Pathway Student Center.
Common questions

Is there a mistake on your EAD card? 

  • Request a replacement card and pay the USCIS I-765 filing fee.
  • If your EAD card was approved by the Potomac Service Center and contains incorrect information (misspelled name, incorrect birthdate) due to USCIS error, please follow these instructions.
    • Submit a letter that explains the error. Include the card containing the incorrect information, documents showing that USCIS made an error such as a copy of the application or a copy of your birth certificate.
    • Mail to:
      • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
      • Potomac Service Center
      • 2200 Potomac Center Dr., Stop 2425
      • Arlington, VA 20598-2425
    • USCIS will issue a corrected EAD within 30-45 days of receiving the EAD that contains the error. You do not need to submit a new Form I-765 or pay a new filing fee.

You may access the SEVP Portal on the start date listed on your EAD card.

  • Once your approved OPT period has begun, you will receive an email to your UMKC email account with the subject line Optional Practical Training Approval – the next step. Create an SEVP Portal Account”.
  • The email contains a unique link to the portal, which expires in 14 days. You will need your SEVIS ID (located on your I-20, starts with N). If you do not see the email, check your junk mail or spam folder. If it is not there, email us.
  • If you enter your SEVIS ID incorrectly three times, your will be locked out of the portal. Please contact our office to have it reset.
  • THe SEVP Portal is free. SEVP will never ask for money in an email.
Learn more about creating your account

Updates to your record will not be visible in the SEVP Portal for at least 24 to 48 hours after your advisor has updated it. Please note that it may take three to five business days for advisors to update your record.

24-Month STEM Extension

  • Currently in valid 12-month period of OPT
  • Bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from a school that is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency and is certified by SEVP at the time of STEM OPT extension application.
  • Degree program on I-20 has CIP code included on eligible CIP codes list.

Learn more about STEM OPT eligibility
Form I-983 and Employer Eligibility (PDF)

Your STEM extension application must be received by USCIS before your 12-month OPT ends but the earliest you may apply is 90 days before your 12-month OPT ends.

Upload all documents using the Secure Document Upload tool in Pathway.

While application is pending

  • Travel outside the United States (PDF)
  • USCIS processing times for form I-765
  • You may work while your STEM extension application is pending, as long as your employment meets all of the requirements of STEM employment. You should provide your employer with a copy of your I-797 receipt notice showing your extension is pending as confirmation of your continued employment eligibility.
  • Did you receive a request for evidence? Contact our office.

Changing employers while application is pending

Submit these documents to ISAO.

We will prepare an updated I-20 with the new employer information. You will need to return a signed copy of this updated I-20 to us, and we will then forward all documentation to the USCIS Service Center.

Congratulations! You may begin working once you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card and are within the approved employment dates printed on the card. 

  • If you used ISAO’s office address for your application, we will notify you at your UMKC email account as soon as we receive your card in the mail, and we will also prepare an updated I-20 showing your extension approval.
  • If your card was mailed to you directly and you would like an updated I-20, please submit a Request for Documents form along with a copy of the front and back of your EAD card to by Secure Document Upload in your Pathway Student Center.
Common questions

Is there a mistake on your EAD card? 

  • Request a replacement card and pay the USCIS I-765 filing fee.
  • If your EAD card was approved by the Potomac Service Center and contains incorrect information (misspelled name, incorrect birthdate) due to USCIS error, please follow these instructions.
    • Submit a letter that explains the error. Include the card containing the incorrect information, documents showing that USCIS made an error such as a copy of the application or a copy of your birth certificate.
    • Mail to:
      • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
      • Potomac Service Center
      • 2200 Potomac Center Dr., Stop 2425
      • Arlington, VA 20598-2425
    • USCIS will issue a corrected EAD within 30-45 days of receiving the EAD that contains the error. You do not need to submit a new Form I-765 or pay a new filing fee.

To maintain your F-1 visa status, you are required to update your employment history and contact information such as changes to employer address, supervisor, contact information and job title, in the SEVP Portal. You must also email us a copy of the updated I-983 form (PDF) with the subject line "STEM – Edited info in portal."

To add new employers to the SEVP Portal while on STEM OPT, you must submit to ISAO a new employer form (PDF) and I-983 form (PDF), as well as the final self-evaluation from your previous employer, if applicable.

You are still required to email your six-month validation reports (PDF) and I-983 self-evaluations directly to ISAO. This cannot be done in the SEVP Portal.

Additional Employment Information

I-9 form

  • Stating incorrect information is considered fraud and could result in the denial of benefits or change of status in the future. If you are unsure about how to answer a question, consult your employer’s human resources office.

Health insurance

  • You will no longer be automatically enrolled in UMKC’s student health plan. If you employer doesn't offer health insurance, you may purchase your own insurance through the company of your choice.
  • If you wish to remain on the UMKC Aetna plan, you may enroll by selecting "University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC)" at Aetna Student Health.

Unemployment

  • Are you getting close to having a cumulative total of 90 days of unemployment while on Post-Completion OPT? Or 150 days of unemployment between your Post-Completion OPT and STEM OPT?
  • We are not terminating records when students reach their unemployment limit. However, at some point in the future, SEVIS could turn on the auto-terminate function. Once it is on, any student who is at or over their unemployment limit will have a terminated SEVIS status.
  • If you are at your unemployment limit, it may affect any future OPT, STEM, H1B or other visa applications.
  • Check your SEVP Portal to ensure that all of your employment is correctly reflected. Ensure you are keeping all records of employment, including pay stubs, offer letters and tax forms.

H-1B Cap Gap Information

USCIS Resources