Application Review

The process for filing for the 12-month Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) occurs in three steps. The entire process takes three to four months from beginning to end so please plan accordingly. Understand that you cannot begin legally working until two conditions are satisfied:

  1. The start date of your EAD card begins.
  2. You have the EAD physically in your hand to present to your employer as proof of legal employment authorization

Process:

  1. Your request for an OPT I-20 is submitted to OIS
  2. You return to OIS to pick-up your OPT I-20
  3. You assemble your OPT application packet to mail to USCIS

  1. Your request for an OPT I-20 is submitted to OIS
    • You are able to request the OPT I-20 90 days before your graduation date from USC
    • OIS cannot expedite the processing time of 7 business days, no exceptions
    • Choose a start/end date for OPT
      • You are eligible to choose a start date any day within the 60-day window after your graduation date. See below. Your end date would be 12 months later.
      • If you are not sure if you are graduating, wait until you have confirmation before you file for OPT. It is extremely difficult to cancel your OPT application once it is sent to USCIS for processing.
        Upcoming Start and End Dates
        • Spring 2014
          • Graduation May 16
          • Start date window May 17 - July 15
        • Summer 2014
          • Graduation August 12
          • Start date window Aug. 13 - Oct. 11
        • Fall 2014
          • Graduation December 17
          • Start date window Dec. 18 - Feb. 16
        • Spring 2015
          • Graduation May 15
          • Start date window May 16 - July 14
      • Have an academic advisor from your home department sign your graduation verification section
  2. You return to OIS to pick-up your OPT I-20
    1. Sign and date I-20 at student signature (Item #11)
    2. Please note that your packet must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the generation date of the OPT I-20 (date at Item #10, page 1)
    3. You are able to have someone pick-up the OPT I-20 for you from OIS but must provide them with written authorization
    4. For those with F-2 dependents, OPT I-20’s will also be given to you but DO NOT need to be included with USCIS application packet
  3. You assemble your OPT application packet to mail to USCIS
    1. Items for USCIS packet are covered in the remainder of this online workshop and a checklist is provided
    2. Make copies of all documents sent and keep for your records
    3. Mail your OPT packet by certified mail to receive proof of receipt by USCIS
Please VERY CAREFULLY assemble your packet and follow instructions exactly as provided.

If there are errors or omissions, you may receive from USCIS a Request for Evidence or “RFE.”

Follow the instructions precisely and mail back what is requested to USCIS immediately otherwise you risk having your request for OPT significantly delayed or denied.

 The RFE will include what is needed along with return mailing instructions.