Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment authorization for employment opportunities that are directly related to your field of study. OPT is granted for a maximum of 12 months per degree level . Students in certain STEM degrees may be eligible for a 24-month exentem of post-completion OPT.

Types of OPT 

Pre-Completion OPT 

  • On a part-time basis while pursuing your degree
  • Full-time during summer vacation 

Post-Completion OPT 

  • Full-time for all students during the year immediately following completion of degree program 


  • Students who have completed degrees in STEM-designated fields may qualify for an extension of 24 additional months. To determine if you qualify, check the 6-digit code that follows your major on your I-20. If that code appears on the STEM list, you may apply for a STEM extension with E-Verify Employer.  
  • See the USCIS STEM Extension Page for full details 
  • See NMU STEM Extension Page for details specific to the process at NMU.


To begin the application process, please follow the instructions below. You must work with the International Programs Office. OPT authorization is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and you will be required to pay a filing fee to USCIS.

  1. Review the OPT Information Sheet 
  2. Work with the appropriate person(s) to complete the required request form.
    Undergraduate OPT Request Form 
    Graduate OPT Request Form 
    STEM Extension Request Form 
  3. Make an appointment with the IPO to review the Request form and be recommended for OPT in SEVIS.
  4. Prepare the required documents and submit your application either by Mail or Online.

To Submit your OPT Application Materials Online
F-1 students seeking post-completion OPT or STEM Extension OPT may submit their applications online via myUSCIS. The online filing option allows F-1 students to apply for OPT and the EAD, upload supporting application documents, pay the filing fee, track the status of their application, communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox, and respond to Requests for Evidence (RFE).

Find more information in the Post-Completion OPT Online Application Guide.  

To Submit your OPT Application by Mail 
F-1 students seeking may submit their application and supporting documents by mail. Make sure to compile all required documents before sending your application. 

Find more information in the Post-Completion OPT Mailing Guide.

Mail your completed application to: 

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
Attn: NFB
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036-1281

For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries 
Attn: NFB (Box 21281)
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034-4850

After submitting your Application 

  • You will received a receipt with a number about 2 weeks after the USCIS received your application. You can use this number to check the status of your application. 
  • Allow 90 days for your for your application to be processed. Please consider this timing when you apply. 
  • You must have a valid EAD card in your hand before you are allowed to begin working, even if your OPT has been approved. 

OPT Approved

Once OPT has begun, students are granted a total of 90 days of unemployment while on initial OPT. 

  • Students who have successfully filed for STEM Extension are granted an additional 60 days of unemployment, totaling 150 days during the 36-month period. 

You must report any changes in employment, including unemployment to USCIS and NMU IPO within in 10 days.

SEVP Portal

The SEVP Portal is an important tool that lets F-1 students on post-completion optional practical training (OPT) meet their legal reporting requirements. Please visit the Create an Account page for specific instructions. 

The SEVP Portal allows international students the ability to report address, telephone and employer information to SEVP without relying upon their designated school official (DSO) to update their information. 

SEVP will email prospective SEVP Portal users important account creation information. However, the only emails the government will send students related to the portal are to create their SEVP Portal account or to reset their password. 

  • The sender of the email will be do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov. 
  • There is no cost associated with creating an account or accessing the portal.
  • You must use your valid NMU email address
  • SEVP Portal cannot be forwarded to a non-NMU email address.