OPT Frequently Asked Questions

How much OPT is available for F-1 students?

One year of OPT is available after completing each higher level degree program. Students who are in a qualifying STEM degree are eligble for an additional two years of OPT. STEM information can be found on the OPT STEM Extension section of this website

Do I need a job to apply for OPT?

A job offer is not required to apply for OPT (initial - 12 months). However, once you find a qualifying job, you must notify the ISSS office. Fill out the Employment and Personal Information Form.

Can I work anywhere in the United States?

The employment may occur anywhere in the U.S. If the job requires you to work overseas for a significant amount of time then the main headquarters in which you work must be located in the US.

What type of status will I have while working on OPT?

During the OPT period, a student remains in F-1 status. You will remain under the University of Louisville's immigration documents.

Can I work on campus while waiting for my EAD?

Once your completion date on the I-20 has been met you cannot work on-campus or off-campus until you have the EAD in your possession and your selected start date has arrived.

What is the average processing time at the USCIS to get my Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?  Is there a way to expedite it?

The average USCIS processing time to issue the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is 90 days. However, please visit the USCIS Processing Timeswebsite for the most up to date processing times. There is no way to expedite an application.

How can I check the status of my OPT application after I mail it to the USCIS?

When you receive your USCIS Notice of Action (receipt notice), visit USCIS Case Status Onlineand enter your receipt number.

How do I contact the USCIS?

The number on the Notice of Action (1-800-375-5283) is the National Customer Service line. Have the receipt number ready before you call.

Is there any way to change the information on the EAD  application (address, dates, etc.) once I have mailed the application?

After you have mailed your application to USCIS no changes can be made except for address updates. To update your address, visit your USCIS.gov Case Status page or contact the National Customer Service line at (1-800-375-5283). Withdrawing the OPT application is very difficult and the fee is non-refundable. If the OPT has been approved, it is not possible to withdraw.

How long can I stay in the U.S. after the end date of my OPT?

You have 60 days after your OPT ends to depart the US, change education level, transfer to another university, or change your status. You cannot work during this time.

Will my spouse and/or dependents get a new F-2 I-20?

Yes, the new I-20's will be made when any changes occur to your F-1 I-20.

It has been longer than 90 days, anything I can do?

The number on the Notice of Action (1-800-375-5283) is the National Customer Service line. Have the receipt number ready before you call.

My EAD approval notice has been recieved, but I have not received the EAD card yet – can I start working?

No. You must have recieved the card and the start date on the card must have been met.

I lost my EAD. How can I get it replaced?

The only way to receive a new EAD is by submitting a new I-765 and supporting documents (fee, photos, forms, etc.). It is impossible to replace an EAD if you are outside the U.S.

My EAD says “not valid for re-entry” on it. Does that mean I cannot travel abroad and re-enter on OPT?

It simply means that you must carry other documents to show proof of your eligibility to re-enter the U.S. such as your I-20 and valid F-1 visa stamp. The EAD alone is not enough to re-enter the U.S.

Is there a minimum number of hours I need to work?

To qualify as employment, you are required to work a minimum of 20 hours/week.

What happens if I go over 90 days of unemployment?

If you accumulate 90 days or more of unemployment, you are in violation of status and may be terminated in the SEVIS system.

Do I need a Social Security Number to work in the U.S.?

Yes. Please see information on our Social Security Page.

Can I change employers while on OPT?

Yes, provided the new employment is directly related to your field of study and you work a minimum of 20 hours per week. No special permission is required to change employers. However, you must update your employer information to ISSS within 10 days of the change of employment.

Do I pay taxes while working on OPT?

Students in F-1 status are subject to all federal, state and local taxes that may apply. 

Can I go to school while on OPT?

You are eligible to go to school on an incidental basis. This usaly mean part-time or certificate programs. Speak with an ISSS advisor for more information.