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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training is a U.S. government benefit for international students holding F-1 status. The benefit is available to students who have maintained F-1 immigration status for the past three quarters (9 months) and have completed either a two-year Associates degree or a one-year certificate. A student is eligible for a maximum of 12 months of full-time OPT per academic level.

To learn more about OPT, please view this slideshow.

OPT application process:

Step 1. Submit a graduation application to the Highline Registration Office (Building 6). More information is available at https://registration.highline.edu/student-records/graduation/.

Step 2. Prepare your OPT application packet (see cover page).

  • Completed OPT Cover Page
  • Completed I-765 Form. Access the original form here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 (See a sample with instructions.) Our office recommends using the ISP mailing address, as indicated. Our office also recommends that you type into this form.
  • All of your current and previous I-20s (from all schools)
  • F-1 visa and valid passport
  • I-94 or E-I-94
  • Two passport photos taken within the past 30 days. (Write your name and SEVIS ID # on the back.)
  • Check or money order in the amount of $410, made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." DO NOT SUBMIT CASH.
  • Optional: Completed G-1145 Form to receive text/email updates about your application.

Step 3. Submit your OPT application packet to the ISP office during the application period (see page 3 of the OPT Information Packet handout). We'll issue a new I-20 with the OPT endorsement.

Step 4. ISP will mail your OPT application. You will receive a receipt in about 2 weeks. (If you used ISP's mailing address on your application, we will contact you at your Highline email account to pick it up.)

Step 5. Start looking for jobs. For help, check https://studentemployment.highline.edu/.

Step 6. Receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and begin working (on or after the start date printed on the EAD). If you requested a Social Security Card, you will receive it in a separate envelope within 2 weeks after getting the EAD.

Step 7. You must report all job changes and changes to your personal information to the online SEVP Portal within 10 days of the change. Please click here for more information on accessing the SEVP Portal.

Need more information? Please check out the OPT Information Packet.


Last updated October 2018

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