Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to gain experience in your field of study prior to or after graduation. Most F-1 students who have been in student status for at least nine months are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT. While on post-completion OPT, you still will be considered an F-1 student under the responsibility of the Office of Global Education & Programs (OGEP). Kentucky State University is responsible for notifying SEVIS with any changes in your address, or if you terminate OPT, or begin a new program. You must remember to update us with these changes.
You must apply for OPT before you complete your last degree requirement. Authorization for OPT is granted by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applications are submitted to the USCIS in Dallas, Texas. Since you must have the authorization before you commence employment, be sure to apply well in advance. We recommend three months prior to anticipated graduation. Before accepting employment, please check with GEP for the current processing time as processing at CIS can take up to 3 months.
You may use OPT part time during the fall and/or spring semesters, part time or full time during vacations, or full time after graduation. You are limited to a total of 12 months while you are an F-1 student and for each degree program.
1. Visit OGEP online or come into the office for the necessary application materials.
2. When ready to submit your application, call OGEP to make an appointment.
Note: Because you are seeking OPT in your field of study, enter "(c)
(3) (i)" under item 16 of the Form I-765.
3. Take the completed application to your appointment at OGEP.
At OGEP, an advisor will review your application and answer any questions you may have about OPT. OGEP will submit the application to USCIS on your behalf, unless you elect to do so.
Items to Include in an OPT Application
1. Form I-765, completed and signed(http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/files/i-765.pdf
2. Two color, full-frontal passport photos. This link provides specifics of the photograph: http://uscis.gov/graphics/publicaffairs/newsrels/04_08_02Photo_flyer.pdf
3. Copy of all I-20s
4. Copy of the name page and photo page of your passport
5. Copy of any previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) (both sides)
6. Copy of I-94 card (both sides)
7. A letter from the Chairperson of your department confirming your expected completion of studies date and type of degree you are to earn
8. Check or money order to USCIS ($340 as of April 2010.)
Applications for OPT must reach USCIS before the program end date (as indicated on the i-20).
You must receive the employment authorization before you start working. You may not begin employment until the date indicated on the employment authorization card.
You must notify OGEP every time you change your address.
Updating Social Security
After receiving your employment authorization, you must update your records with the Social Security Administration. To do so, take your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), social security card, I-20, and passport to the local Social Security Administration office: 140 Flynn Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601; 502-875-2232. If possible, do this before leaving Frankfort, for it may be more difficult to update your information in another city. Social Security Tax (FICA) should not be withheld from your wages while you are on practical training. However, your earnings are subject to federal, state, and local income taxes.
STEM OPT Extensions
If you are studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics you may qualify for a STEM Extension
. USCIS's website states
, "F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, are employed by employers enrolled in E-Verify, and who have received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization related to such a degree, may apply for a 17-month extension of such authorization. F-1 students may obtain additional information about STEM OPT extensions on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program website at www.ice.gov/sevis." Come see OGEP for more information.