You are allowed to pick a start date any time within the 60 days following the end of your program (i.e. your graduation date or end of exams). If you are an advanced PhD student and you need an earlier start date of your OPT, there is more leeway in determining your program end date (talk to an advisor at the Office of Global Learning if you are in this situation).
When choosing the start date for your OPT card, the most important priorities to weigh are:
1) Choose the earliest day that you might want to start working (you cannot begin working BEFORE the start date on the OPT card and until you receive the card). What if someone offers you a job with the stipulation that you start the day after graduation? Plan for any possibility. [PLEASE NOTE: on campus work authorization ends when your registration ends, so if you want to continue in an on campus job once you are no longer registered, that job must be in your field, and you must have received your OPT card.]
2) If you want the latest possible day to start your work authorization, the latest day you may choose as your start date for the OPT card is 60 days after your graduation or last day of registration (whichever is earlier).
REMEMBER: You may NOT change these dates after you apply for OPT.
These are not complete instructions and do not go over every box. These are just tips for some of the boxes that are not self-explanatory.
Note: We suggest that you print and send in the paper version of the I-765 and NOT submit the I-765 on line because the on line submission requires you to schedule and complete an in person biometric appointment and this usually causes delays in the processing of your OPT application.
• Check first box 1a “Initial permission to accept employment” if you are applying for OPT for the first time.
• If you are applying for a STEM extension, check box 1c “renewal.”
• Use 1b if you have lost you OPT card and are applying for a replacement.
Part 2, Your U.S. Mailing Address: This must be a US address at which you can receive mail for at least the next 3 ½ months. You cannot use a forwarding address. If the card is sent to an address with a forwarding order, or if you cannot receive mail at the address you use, your card will be returned to the immigration service and destroyed. If you want to use a friend’s address, you need to make sure your name is on the mailbox. If you want your department to receive mail for you, check with your department first.
Part 2, Other Information #8 & #9: Leave the Alien registration number or USCIS account number blank if you do not have one (you would only have one if you applied for OPT before). If you have applied for OPT before, the USCIS number is on your OPT card.
Part 2, #12 Previous use of I-765: If “yes,” include copies of supporting documentation (previous work card, approval notice/receipt notice, etc…).
Part 2, #14-#17: You may choose to apply for an SSN through your OPT application if you want to. It will not delay your OPT application.
Part 2, #21a: This is your I-94 record number which you will find at this website.
Part 2, #27 Eligibility Category: For F-1 OPT, fill out as follows:
o For POST – Completion (after graduating) OPT: ( c ) ( 3 ) ( B )
o For the STEM extension of OPT (see FAQ #10 below): ( c ) ( 3 ) ( C )
o For OPT PRIOR to graduating, summer only: ( c ) ( 3 ) ( A )
Part 2, #28-28C: If you are applying for the STEM extension, you must also complete this section with your degree field and your employer’s “E-Verify” number.
F1 students leave #29-31b blank.
Part 3: Certification: Sign with blue ink and enter today’s date.
Part 4 & 5: Skip and leave blank.
Part 6: Include dates of any previous work authorization such as CPT. Fill in 1a, 1b & 3d. In 3d, write “CPT Authorization: mm/dd/yyyy to mm/dd/yyyy” if it was CPT.
Keep a copy of the completed I-765 for your records.
Put together the items below, keeping a copy of your completed I-765 form for your records: