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After Applying for Optional Practical Training

After Applying for Optional Practical Training

This page offers information about advice on record keeping, case status, travel, and other Optional Practical Training (OPT) problem scenarios.

  • Make a copy for your records of the receipt from the post office showing the tracking number.
  • Set up email notifications at with tracking number to monitor when your application is received by USCIS.
  • In the unlikely event that delivery is delayed, denied, returned, USPS customer service to determine the problem and follow recommended instructions. If you determine that your I-765 has not reached USCIS, contact an ISSS advisor for advice.

  • Print page from showing that application was received on or before your I-20 end date and keep in your records.
  • If you paid by personal check, monitor your bank account and note the date the check cleared. This will confirm receipt by USCIS.

  • Make a photocopy for your records.
  • Sign up for email updates at USCIS website using Receipt Number.
  • Verify that name and mailing address are printed 100% correctly on receipt notice. If any error, email for advice.
  • Do not contact USCIS to change your address. If circumstances change and it is absolutely impossible for you or someone else to receive the EAD at the address on the Receipt Notice, email for advice.
  • Do not notify USPS of a change in address until you have made arrangements for the address update with USCIS according to ISSS recommendations.

  • If someone else is receiving the EAD on your behalf, alert that person that a piece of mail should be arriving soon and to notify you as soon as it arrives. Remind the person to put it in a new mail envelope rather than forwarding to you.
  • Take any steps possible to ensure delivery of your mail. If you live in an apartment complex, check that your name is on your mailbox. If you have roommates, alert them you are expecting something important.
  • Do not notify USPS to hold mail, forward mail, or process a change of address until you receive the EAD.

  • Make a copy of the Approval Notice and EAD (front and back) for your records
  • Scan and email a copy to

If you decide you do not want OPT, you must take immediate action to prevent adjudication of your I-765.

  • Write (but do not send) a letter to USCIS requesting your I-765 application be withdrawn.
    • •Note “Re: I-765 Withdrawal” on the letter-Include biographical information to identify yourself, including name, date of birth, SEVIS ID number and receipt number, if applicable.
    • •Include biographical information to identify yourself, including name, date of birth, and SEVIS ID number
    • •Request that the Form I-765 application for Optional Practical Training be withdrawn and include a short statement of why you are withdrawing your request.
    • •Date and sign
    • •If you have received the Form I-797 (Receipt Notice) from USCIS, include the case number in your letter
  • Email with your full name, UD ID, and case number (if you have received a Receipt Notice from USCIS). Indicate that you mailed your I-765 and want to withdraw your OPT application. Attach your letter to USCIS to the e-mail and a copy of your Form I-797 Receipt Notice (if you have it).
  • An ISSS advisor will contact the USCIS Service Center processing your OPT application and request the withdrawal of the application.
  • USCIS will send a confirmation letter to the address you listed on the I-765 indicating your application has been withdrawn. Keep this for your records.

  • There are a few possible reasons your Receipt Notice has not arrived:
    • •USCIS did not mail it yet.  They may take up to 6 weeks to put a Receipt Notice in the mail after your application is received.
    • •Your Receipt Notice was “returned undeliverable.” This means the Post Office was unable to deliver the letter to your address and they mailed it back to USCIS.  USCIS keeps it for a short time and then destroys it.
    • •The Receipt Notice was lost permanently before delivery (e.g. delivered to the wrong address) or after delivery (e.g. accidentally discarded as junk mail).
  • To try and recover your receipt notice after you have waited four weeks, start with these steps:
    • •First do what you can to determine whether the Receipt Notice has already been delivered. Double check your stacks of mail and ask roommates, neighbors, the apartment complex manager, etc.
    • •Email to inquire about the status of your receipt notice. Include your name, date of birth, and date your I-765 was delivered to USCIS.
    • •Call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at (800)375-5283 and ask for your receipt number. If you are able to obtain it, enter it on the website under Case Status on the left hand side. You can often gain helpful information this way.
  • You may find that one or both of the above steps solve your problem. For example:
    • •USCIS might tell you the Receipt Notice was not mailed yet and to wait a little longer.
    • •The Receipt Notice might have been returned undeliverable and USCIS still has it. Check that USCIS has the correct address on file, and if so, ask them to re-send it.
  • Contact in the following circumstances:
    • •You followed the instructions above and have not received an email reply after a week and you were unsuccessful in obtaining the receipt number by phone.
    • •You find out the receipt notice cannot be re-sent and you would like advice on international travel.
    • •The address on file with USCIS is no longer correct.
  • A note on international travel
    • •The official guidance from Customs and Border Protection (i.e. the border officers) is that students should carry the Receipt Notice itself for re-entry while the OPT is pending.
    • •If your situation requires you to travel and attempt re-entry without a Receipt Notice, we recommend carrying a print-out from USCIS Case Status online showing the status of your case.

  • If any of the following happen, call or email ISSS immediately for advice:
    • •You receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) in the mail or see in Case Status Online that one was sent
    • •You receive your I-765 application back in the mail or see in Case Status Online that it was rejected and/or returned
  • Either of the above are an indication that something is seriously wrong with your OPT application. No progress will be made on your application until USCIS receives the necessary documentation from you.
  • The allowable time period to respond to an RFE or rejected application is limited and will be indicated on the materials from USCIS. If you fail to respond by the deadline, your application will be denied. We strongly advise you to send the RFE materials with a tracking number to ensure USCIS receives the documents in the a timely manner.

  • If your I-765 is denied, your ability to stay in the US ends 60 days after the I-20 program end date
    • If you are still within the grace period, you may stay in the U.S.. for the remainder of the 60 days
    • If the grace period has already elapsed, you should depart the U.S.. without delay
  • The chances for successfully appealing an I-765 denial are low. If you believe you were denied in error, contact an immigration attorney at once.

USCIS will send the EAD using regular, first class mail. Expect to wait a week or more for delivery of the EAD after the case status changes to approved. If you worry there was a problem in the delivery of the EAD:

  • First determine whether the EAD has already been delivered to your address. Check your mail and ask others (neighbors, roommates, the apartment complex manager).
  • Call USCIS customer service and ask if your EAD was sent back to USCIS.
  • Email  with a detailed account of the situation and steps you have already taken, including notes from your conversation with USCIS customer service. An advisor will respond with advice.

There is little ISSS can do to intervene in cases of an EAD not delivered. You may need to apply for a replacement card and pay the fee again. If your EAD was returned undeliverable or lost in the mail, expect significant delays in obtaining the card. If you have a job offer, you may wish to contact your employer to make arrangements for delaying your start date. Remember, you may not work until you have the EAD in hand, even if the case status shows your case was approved.

If there is any problem on your EAD, email a scanned copy of the card with a description of the exact problem problem (name misspelled, wrong dates, etc.) to and call USCIS using the number listed on your receipt notice.

  • Remember, the dates on the card determine when you are authorized to work, even if they are not the dates for which you intended to apply.
  • If for any reason USCIS approves the I-765 after the OPT start date you requested, the start date will be set as the date the application was approved. USCIS will not adjust the end date; therefore, your OPT period will be less than 12 months. This is unfortunate, but not a mistake. There is no remedy possible in this situation.

Post-Completion OPT is Pending

If your post-completion OPT has not been approved yet (Employment Authorization Document [EAD] card still not yet issued by USCIS), and you do not have a job or a job offer, you may leave and then re-enter the U.S.. to continue to look for employment.

In order to have the best chance of re-entering the U.S.. without problems when your post-completion OPT is pending, you should have be sure you have the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S.)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
  • I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six months)
  • I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797)

If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa when your post-completion OPT application is pending, you should also be sure to have your I-765 receipt notice (Form I-797) in addition to the usual documents required for a visa application.

Post-Completion OPT is Approved

If your post-completion OPT has been approved (EAD card has been issued by USCIS) and you have a job or a job offer, you may leave and re-enter the U.S.. in order to begin or resume employment. If your post-completion OPT has been approved and you leave the U.S.. before getting a job or a job offer, your OPT ends. You may not be able to re-enter the U.S.. as an F-1 student.

After USCIS has issued an EAD card for post-completion OPT, in order to have the best chance of re-entering the U.S.. without problems, you should be sure you have the following documents:

  • Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S..)
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport
  • I-20 (with a valid travel signature no older than six months*)
  • EAD card
  • Evidence that you already have a job in the U.S.. or that you have a job offer.

The visa stamp requirement does not apply to Canadian citizens.

If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa, you should also be sure to have your EAD card and evidence that you already have a job in the U.S.. or that you have a job offer in addition to the usual documents required for a visa application.


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