Post-completion OPT

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  • Students may engage in post-completion OPT after completion of their studies. 
  • Undergraduate students must have a graduation application on file before they can be recommended for post-completion OPT. For graduate students, their graduate program advisor must expect them to graduate.
  • Students must obtain a post-completion OPT I-20 from their International Student Advisor.
  • Students mail their application to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which approves or denies their OPT.
  • Students may apply as early as 90 days before their graduation date.
  • No job offer is needed to apply for post-completion OPT.
  • Post-completion OPT is available once per academic level.

Live Workshop and Drop-In Application Material Check Hours:

Since the post-completion OPT process and requirements are lengthy, ISSS does not provide one-on-one advising. Students are highly encouraged to participate in one of our workshops, prepare their application materials on their own. If students would like their materials to be reviewed by their international student advisor, students can drop off materials at GWP 102, email copies or make an appointment.

If you will graduate in... Workshop
Spring 2021

April 2, 12:00 pm (Zoom:

Summer 2021 April 30, 12:00 pm (Zoom:

Self-serve Information:

Application Time Frame and Deadlines

Students can mail complete post-completion OPT applications to USCIS no earlier than 90 days before and no later than 60 days after their Program End Date (the last day of the finals week of the graduating quarter). If USCIS receives an OPT application before or after the window allowed, your application will be denied.

Students must include the post-completion OPT I-20 issued by an International Student Advisor. Allow 5 business days to have this new I-20 issued.

USCIS must receive the complete application packet within 30 days from the issuance of the post-completion OPT I-20.

USCIS takes 90 days or longer to process OPT applications, so act early!

Graduating Quarter

Earliest date for USCIS to receive app

Priority deadline to request OPT I-20 from Int'l Student Advisor

Last date for USCIS to receive app

Autumn 2020 September 19, 2020 October 19, 2020 February 16, 2021
Winter 2021 December 19, 2020 January 8, 2021 May 18, 2021
Spring 2021 March 13, 2021 March 26, 2021 August 10, 2021


Selecting Start Date & Requesting OPT I-20

Students must choose an OPT start date. The start date is the earliest possible date that you might want to work if you have a job. Choose a date within 60 days from the Program End Date (the last day of the finals week of the graduating quarter).

Graduating Quarter Program End Date Earliest Date to Start OPT Latest Date to Start OPT
Autumn 2020 December 18, 2020 December 19, 2020 February 16, 2021
Winter 2021 March 19, 2021 March 20, 2021 May 18, 2021
Spring 2021 June 11, 2021 June 12, 2021 August 10, 2021

To request post-completion OPT I-20, fill out the Post-completion OPT I-20 Request Webform. Allow 5 business days for processing. 

Be firm on OPT start date. Once a post-completion OPT I-20 is issued, this date cannot be changed. If you are failing to graduate after your post-completion OPT I-20 is issued, contact your International Student Advisor immediately

**Note for Winter Quarter Graduates thinking about H-1B: 

  • Consider choosing a post-completion OPT start date after April 1 to access the Cap Gap Extension benefit. 
  • This benefit automatically extends OPT until September 30 if your OPT expires before this date. H-1B begins on October 1.

U.S. Mailing Address Warning

  • USCIS will send your Form I-797C, Notice of Action and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to your U.S. postal mailbox mentioned on I-765. 
  • Make sure your full name appears on the mailbox of where you currently live. 
  • Thinking about moving within the next 6 months?
    • U.S. Postal Service will NOT forward government mail, even if you file a forwarding address/ change of address request.
    • Ask permission from a friend to use their address OR Set up a P.O. Box (available for about $10/month)
  • Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery if available. 
  • Continue to update contact info via MyUW while engaged in OPT. 

Application Materials

Do not use staples. The use of black and white printing is standard, color copies are not needed. Double-sided copies are acceptable.

Students who wish to have their application materials reviewed by an International Student Advisor should attend the Drop-in Application Material Check Hours or drop it off at GWP 102. Undergraduate business and Master of Accounting students are also welcome to schedule an appointment with Annemarie Martin if they want their documents checked. 

Filing Address

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS): 

P.O. Box 805373
Chicago, IL  60680

For FedEx, UPS and DHL deliveries: 

Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL  606035517
  • Not sure how to address an envelope? Review an example.

Important Reminders Before Mailing Application

  • Make sure Form I-765, G-1450, checks and the new I-20 are signed and dated.
  • Before mailing, make a copy of your entire application for your records. International Student Advisors will only save a copy of your OPT I-20.
  • Mail your application within 30 days of the new I-20 issuance or as soon as possible.
  • Copy and Mail Center is located in MAT 053
  • Purchase tracking service or deliverly confirmation of your application package.

UW Email Address After Graduation

Former students are no longer eligible for full access to UW email services. Be sure to set email forwarding from your UW email address to your personal email address by visiting this page. To learn more visit this page.

All Student and Exchange Visitor Program-related emails will be sent to the student's UW email address as recorded on their SEVIS records. International Student Advisors will continue to email alumni at their UW email address.

What to Expect After Filing

  • Students should receive an email or text message with the receipt number from USCIS Lockbox within 30-45 days from mailing.
  • Students should then expect to receive a Form I-797C, Notice of Action through the mail within 30 days of the receipt of filing at the Lockbox. Students should email a copy of the NOA to their International Student Advisor. 
  • Students should follow the progress of their application by visiting Case Status Online and entering the receipt number for their case. Students can also create an online USCIS account to track their cases and receive automatic status updates by email or text message. 
  • Check Current processing times for I-765 being adjudicated at USCIS service centers and field offices on the USCIS website. If a student's application is pending longer than the processing time listed, contact USCIS online or by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Hotline 1-800-375-5283. If students see no progress on their case status 2 weeks after they contacted USCIS, they should contact their International Student Advisor.
  • Once you receive, EAD card, make sure the information printed is correct. Email a copy of front and back to your International Student Advisor. 

SEVP Portal

  • SEVP Portal is a web-based tool in which students can log in to update their address, phone number, and employer information. 
  • SEVP Portal set up link will be sent to students' UW email address on or after the first day of post-completion OPT start date. 
  • To learn more about the SEVP Portal, visit the SEVP Portal Help page.
  • Remember, you should not participate in work (paid or unpaid) that is not directly related to your program. You will be asked to explain how the job is relevant. If you enter information about a job that does not relate to your degree program, it is a violation of your OPT and visa status and it will not stop the unemployment clock.
  • Remember, you must report changes in your address and employer info within 10 days. If you go over this time period to report your employment start date, you will see an error message. 
  • If you want your personal email address to be reflected on your SEVP Portal account after the initial set up, contact your Int'l Student Advisor.

Social Security Number

Students who requested a Social Security Number (SSN) card to be issued when filing Form I-765 should receive their SSN card in the mail from the Social Security Administration within 7 days after receiving their EAD. Students who do not receive their SSN cards should review the info on this document. 

Health Insurance

Consider purchasing annual coverage of UW's ISHIP insurance so that it lasts until August 31st after you graduate regardless of your class enrollment. It is highly risky not to have health insurance in the U.S. We have created a list of OPT student-friendly insurance companies

International Travel during OPT

  • Students should not depart from the U.S. once they reach their Program End Date and while their post-completion OPT application is pending with USCIS. This can be considered as an abandonment of their post-completion OPT application and they may not be readmitted into the U.S..
  • Once post-completion OPT application is approved, students may travel outside the U.S. and seek readmission into the U.S. with the following documents:
    • Passport valid for at least 6 months into the future:
      • Countries listed here have a special agreement with the U.S. that allows their citizens' passports to be valid for reentry purpose up to the date of expiration. 
    • F-1 Student Visa:
      • Check the expiration date and the number of allowed entries on your visa. Most visas have "M" (multiple) printed under entries. This means there is no limit on the number of entries for which you can use your visa. If your visa is expired or if you have already used the number of entries you are allowed, you will need to renew your F-1 student visa at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy office outside of the U.S. (preferably in your home country).
      • If you are seeking reentry to the U.S. after traveling back from a contiguous country (Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands) for less than 30 days, you may be permitted to re-enter with an expired F-1 visa. This is called Automatic Visa Revalidation
    • Form I-20, endorsed for travel by DSO:
      • Your I-20 needs to be authorized for travel on page 2 by an International Student Advisor. For students engaged in post-completion OPT, the signature is valid for six months. To receive a signature, complete the Travel Authorization Signature Request Webform.
      • We recommend student's I-20 to be up to date show, "Post-completion OPT Approved" and their employer's' name and location printed. Email International Student Advisor to obtain an updated I-20. 
    • EAD    
    • An employment offer letter or letter of employment from your employer, internship or volunteering site
    • Evidence of Financial Resources (optional but strongly recommended):
      • A bank statement, a letter from your sponsor or a scholarship award letter. The amount should cover one year of expenses that you are responsible for as indicated on the first page of your I-20.

F-1 Status Maintenance during and After Post-Completion OPT

During post-completion OPT:

  • Begin training only after you receive your EAD card and on or after the USCIS approved post-completion OPT start date.
  • Only engage in training directly related to your major. Students will be asked to explain how each employment is related to their course of study when reporting their employment.  Remember, you should not participate in any work (paid or unpaid) that is not directly related to your program (for example, driving for Uber/Lyft, delivering food, selling items at a mall, child care, musical performances, etc.). If you enter information about a job that does not relate to your degree program, it is a violation of your OPT and visa status and it will not stop the unemployment clock.
  • Must work at least 20 hours/week (multiple trainings are OK, trainings do NOT have to be paid).
  • Self-employment is OK but you must have a proper business license.
  • Must not accrue more than 90 calendar days of unemployment. Your SEVIS record will be terminated if you go over the allowed days of unemployment. 
  • Report physical address and/or mailing address and employment changes within 10 business days in the SEVP Portal. Contact ISSS if you missed this reporting time frame.

After post-completion OPT:

  • Students who successfully complete their post-completion OPT have a 60 days grace period benefit.
  • During the grace period, students can do the following:
    • Depart from the U.S.
    • Change to different immigration status.
    • Be admitted to a new program of study and request SEVIS Record Transfer.