OPT Application

OPT is a valuable benefit of being an F-1 student. This information will help you apply for OPT.

You may apply for post completion OPT up to 90 days ahead of your graduation or up to 60 days after your graduation.  As with most USCIS applications, it is generally an advantage to apply as soon as possible, and it can take some time for USCIS to adjudicate your application and send you the EAD (Employment Authorization Document).

The usual steps to apply for OPT employment:

  1. Schedule an appointment with Susanna Lu, Assistant Director of International Community.
  2. Determine what dates you want for your OPT, and most especially your OPT start date.  Your start date can be the day you complete your studies up to 60 days after the day you complete your studies.  Most students are eligible for 12 months of full time post completion OPT, and if your primary major is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) major and you and your employer agree to certain things you may be able to extend OPT by 17 additional months for 29 months total.
  3. Read information about the I-765 form presented by USCIS.
  4. Complete the I-765 form.    
    • We suggest that for your address you use c/o Concordia College International Community Office, 901 8th Street S, Moorhead, MN  56562, and be sure to provide us your email address and mobile phone number so we can get the card to you.  Mail to this address will always be delivered and will never be returned.  If you use a different address and the mail is returned to USCIS, it becomes difficult, expensive, and time consuming for you to receive your card.
    • On Line 27, please use (c)(3)(B) for standard post completion OPT. 
  5. Email your desired OPT start date to Susanna Lu at slu@cord.edu
  6. A completed application includes these materials in this order:
    1. A check or money order payable to U. S. Department of Homeland Security for $410.
    2. Your completed I-765.
    3. Form I-94, retrieved online at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search.
    4. Copy of I-20 recommending OPT (this I-20 is only valid for one month for OPT application, please send it in promptly) and of all prior I-20s.
    5. Photocopy of passport ID page and most recent F-1 visa.
    6. Copy of any prior EADs (if any)
    7. Two identical passport style photographs.
  7. Please make an appointment and ask Susanna to review your OPT application by making an appointment online at https://cord.edu/internationalresources.  Please bring your application and one complete copy to your appointment - we will scan the copy for Concordia records, and return the copy to you so you can retain a complete copy.

Mail your completed application to:

USCIS Chicago Lockbox

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):


PO Box 805373

Chicago, IL 60680

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:


Attn: I-765 C03

131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor

Chicago, IL 60603-5517

OPT Information

Please keep in mind the following items during your period of OPT employment:

  1. You remain in F-1 status during your period of OPT employment, and so Concordia continues to maintain your SEVIS record. We ask that you please fill out the OPT Reporting Form and send it to Susanna in Intercultural Affairs.
    • Change of address of your residence within 10 days. SEVIS system always wants to know the physical address of your residence, not a mailing address.
    • Start date or stop date of any employment, and please provide employer's name and address, and brief description how employment is related to you major field of study.
    • Please let us know any changes to your email address or cell phone number so we can stay in touch.
  2. During your OPT period you are allowed to have up to 90 cumulative days of unemployment, and if you exceed 90 days of unemployment you are expected to leave the country.
  3. You can travel outside the country and return while on OPT, but ICE Guidance (Question 2.N. and 2.O.) advise that you should carry your EAD card and evidence of employment with you to be able to return to USA. Also, please make sure your I-20 is signed within most recent year and passport is still valid before traveling.
  4. You may be eligible for a 24 month extension of OPT if your major is in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). There are certain requirements to apply for and receive this additional period of employment. Please discuss your individual situation with Susanna.

OPT Reporting Form

Please fill out the OPT Reporting Form and email it to slu@cord.edu for updates or report it yourself through SEVP Student Portal.

How to use the SEVP Student Portal:

  • Use the SEVP Portal Account to report any changes to your address or employer within 10 days. Events to report include: start date, end date, new work location.
  • You will receive an email from SEVP detailing how to set up your SEVP Portal Account.
  • If you do not receive your notification:
    • Check your email junk/spam folders
    • Confirm with your DSO that the correct email address is in your SEVIS record
    • If the email on your record is incorrect, a DSO can submit a SEVIS correction
    • SEVP Portal Account Resources