Applying for Optional Practical Training

Learn more about the application process for standard Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Different kinds of OPT and Application Timelines

There are two kinds of OPT, Pre-completion and Post-completion. To understand which type to request, you need to figure out your completion date.

Definition of Completion Date

The completion date is generally established as the last day of the last month of the final term in which you will register to complete academic requirements (e.g. April 30 for winter, June 30 for spring, August 31 for spring/summer, or December 31 for fall.)

Pre-completion OPT

Employment begins and ends before the completion of the academic program.

Post-completion OPT

Employment begins after completion of academic program.

PhD candidates who wish to request a post-completion OPT start date earlier than the standard completion date should contact an International Office advisor for guidance.

Process for OPT Application

Students can learn about the OPT application process, access OPT forms, and submit a request for an OPT I-20 via the Post-Completion OPT Request eForm which is available in M-International, the UM-Dearborn F-1 international student portal.  

1. Meet with your Academic Advisor or Graduate Program Coordinator to request an OPT recommendation letter. 

2. Complete the required OPT workshop. The OIA hosts OPT workshops throughout the academic year. A schedule of workshops is available at the OIA Work as an International Student page. 

3. To obtain your OPT I-20 from the OIA you must submit the Post-Completion OPT Request eForm, available via the UM-Dearborn F-1 international student portal: M-International

4. When your Post-Completion OPT Request eForm is approved, the OIA will prepare your OPT recommendation in SEVIS and issue you your new I-20. The OPT recommendation will be printed on page 3 of the new I-20.

5. Sign your name on the OPT recommendation I-20 (page1, item 11)

6. Make a copy of your complete application

7. Send your complete application along with a copy of OPT request I-20 and required documents to USCIS. Refer to Sending Your Completed OPT Application to USCIS below

8. USCIS will send you a notice for the receipt of your I-765 EAD (OPT) application (2-3 weeks). Once you have received your receipt notice, you can track the status of your individual case using the case status search feature of the USCIS Website. You may elect to receive email alerts about your case status from this Website.

9. USCIS will approve or deny your OPT. If approved, they will mail your EAD to you. (3-5 months average processing time). Approximate processing times for the various applications and petitions that the immigration service centers adjudicate are published on the case status section of the USCIS Website.

Sending Your Completed OPT Application to USCIS

Frequently Asked Questions about OPT

Office of International Affairs

2106 - James C. Renick University Center
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
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Phone: 313-583-6600
Fax: 313-583-6725