New Optional Practical Training (OPT) Rules for F-1 Students and a Cap-Gap Provision for the H-1b

Apply for Initial OPT

If you are planning on filing for OPT this semester, you must first attend one of the ISS-OPT sessions (listed below) and then complete the subsequent ISS-OPT survey. These ISS-OPT sessions will go over the rules and regulations about the OPT process. During these sessions you will also need to complete the paperwork necessary to file for the OPT.

Please see the Spring 18 schedule below -

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 2:00-3:30pm 408 Student Union
Friday,April 6th, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm CLB 112
Friday, April 13th, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm CLB 112

NOTE:  If you are graduating in Spring 2018 or Summer 2018, please attend one of these OPT sessions prior to applying for OPT. Without ISS-OPT session attendance, your application submission will not be considered as valid.

***Before you can make an appointment with the ISS office to file for OPT, you must complete one of the ISS-OPT sessions and subsequently the OPT survey. Your completed survey will then be sent to the ISS office.  Only after ISS receives your completed survey will you be able to meet with an ISS-Designated School Official to submit your OPT application.

Click here to view the OPT session presentation.

OPT Information


Completion or Graduation Date Changes

If you failed to complete the graduation requirements specified in the final semester verification you need to contact the ISS immediately.  If the student has filed for the EAD and it has not been approved by the USCIS, the student may request a withdrawal of the EAD application.  The ISS must also update the SEVIS record.  If the EAD has been approved by USCIS, the ISS must extend the student’s SEVIS record to reflect the appropriate date of completion.  The student may only work part-time while enrolled in classes to complete the requirements for the degree or full-time during breaks and vacations. After the successful completion of the degree requirements, the student may work full-time.  Since the OPT was granted, the student is subject to the 90 day unemployment limitation. This error in applying for OPT would cause the student to completely lose OPT.  Now that immigration allows a student to apply for OPT in the 60 days after the date of completion or graduation it is strongly suggested that you wait to apply for OPT if you have any doubt about the completion of your education. 

Filing Deadlines for Initial OPT Applications

A student will be able to file the OPT application 90 days prior to the end date of the degree program, and up to 60 days after the end date of the degree program.  However, the application for OPT must be submitted to the USCIS Service Center within 30 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into the SEVIS record. 

Students who have issues with a specific G.P.A in order to graduate may choose to apply for OPT after the grades have been reported.  The regulations will allow you to make this choice in order to protect your immigration status.

Beginning and Ending Dates of Post-Completion OPT

The start date of OPT will be the requested date at the time of filing or the date of EAD approval, whichever comes later.  If the student applies at the end of the 60 day grace period the date of approval may not extend more than a total of 14 months from the student’s program end date.

Employment Allowed While on OPT

All OPT employment must be in a job that is related to the student’s degree program.  This employment may include:

  • Paid employment – Students may work part-time (20 hours per week) or full-time
  • Multiple employers – Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be in the student’s degree program
  • Short-term multiple employers – performing artists – Students must keep a list of gigs, the dates and duration.
  • Work of hire- 1099 employment which an individual performs a service based on contractual relationship.  Students must keep a list of contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employed business owner – Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed.  Student must work full-time and be able to prove the proper business licenses and engaged in business related to student’s degree program.
  • Employment through an agency – Students must provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.      
  • Unpaid employment – Student may work as volunteers or unpaid interns.  The position must be at least 20 hours a week and it is suggested that you obtain a letter from the employer for evidence of the volunteering.

Limits Periods of Unemployment during OPT

Students on post-completion OPT may not accrue more than 90-days of unemployment under the initial 12-month period of OPT. The DSO must report the unemployment dates in SEVIS.  Students who have exceeded the 90 days of unemployment while on OPT must be advised to prepare to transfer to another U.S. institution, change educational levels at the same institution, change immigration status, or depart the U.S. If the period of unemployment is exceeded DHS enforcement may cause a denial in future benefits such as an H-1b, or ICE/SEVP may select an individual or groups of students and request proof of employment. You are encouraged to keep records of all unemployment, volunteerism, and employment.

Traveling outside of the U.S. does impact the period of unemployment. If the student is out of the U.S. while unemployed the days spent outside the U.S. will count against the 90-day unemployment.

Reporting Requirements for Students While on OPT

All students on OPT must report to the OSU International Students and Scholars office the following information:

  • Any change in name or address
  • The start date of employment
  • The name and address of the employer
  • Any change to the name and address of the employer
  • The start date of the new employment
  • Any unemployment periods of time
  • Any volunteer positions
  • The Employer Identification Number (EIN) for the current employment

You must report your company information upon the start date of the employment and any changes with your employment.  You may complete the update to this web link: and the ISS will update your SEVIS record.  It is your responsibility as a student to confirm that your SEVIS record is up to date.  You are welcome to contact the ISS to verify your student status in SEVIS. 

NOTE - Click here for OPT instructions.

OPT STEM Extension Request


On March 10, 2016, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amended the F-1 regulations for the OPT STEM extension.   The amended regulations provide an OPT STEM extension period of 24 months beginning on May 10, 2016, however because of the SEVIS upgrade we can not issue new I20's until 16 May, 2016. See links below for complete read of the regulations.

STEM Students -The students who completed a BS, MS or PhD in an academic field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and are currently engaged in post-completion (12 month) practical training may apply for the STEM extension if the job or job offer is from an E-verify employer.

CIP Codes - The decision for the STEM fields of study is based on CIP codes. DHS has published an eligible CIP Code program list effective May 10, 2016. See the following link: 

In order to verify whether your OSU degree qualifies for the OPT STEM Extension see the links below:

Enrolled in EverifyThe student must be employed by an E-Verify participating employer.  The E-Verify Company Identification Number or E-Verify Client Company Identification number will be required on the I-765.  

Filing Requirements - The student must file the extension in a timely manner, generally 90 days prior to the end date of the 12 month OPT.  Also, the student must file a Form I-765 with USCIS within 60 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for the OPT STEM extension into the SEVIS record.   The student may continue employment while the extension is pending, until a final decision is made, or for 180 days, whichever comes first.  

Student Reporting Requirements - There are four main reporting requirements. 

1)      Every 6 months the student must report to the DSO to confirm the accuracy of the SEVIS record.  As part of the 6 month reporting,  OPT STEM students must confirm the following as correct:

  • Legal Name
  • Residential of mail address
  • Employer’s name and address
  • Status of current employment

2)      Annual Self-Evaluations - The student must report to the DSO the progress of the training experience.  The student must complete the first “Evaluation of Student Progress” portion of the Form I-983 within 12 months of the OPT STEM start date and collect the required employer signatures before submitting to the DSO.    At the end of the OPT STEM Extension, a student must conduct a final assessment.    Once the evaluations are complete, the student must collect signatures from their employer and return the form to the DSO, who will keep the physical student record.   For additional information, please see this link.

Students and the form I-983

3)      Student and employer report changes in employment status, including the student’s termination or departure from the employer.   When a student changes employers, the student must submit a new Form I-983 to the DSO within 10 days of starting the new OPT STEM employment.  Once the form is received by the DSO, a new I-20 will be issued.  See link for additional instructions.

STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

4)      Material changes to an Existing Form I-983 – Student and employer are obligated to report to the DSO material changes for the student’s training plan.  Materials changes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Any change of the employer’s EIN
  • Any change in compensation not tied to reduction of work hours
  • Any significant decrease in hours per week
  • Changes to the employer’s commitment or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983

See link for additional instructions: STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

School Accreditation -- The OPT STEM extension is based on the fact that the degree is from an educational institution that is accredited by an accrediting agency at the time of the student’s application. 

Periods of Unemployment  --  OPT STEM students must report the termination of the employment within 10 days of the event.    Students who are granted a 24-month OPT STEM extension are given an additional 60 days of unemployment after the 12 month initial OPT.   This means that a 24-month OPT STEM student will receive a total of 150 days of unemployment, 90 days during the 12 month OPT plus 60 days during the OPT extension.

Previously Obtained STEM degrees The rule permits an F-1 student participating in an initial 12-month OPT based on a non-STEM degree to use a prior eligible STEM degree from a US accredited institution for an OPT STEM degree.   The practical training employment must be directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.   The DSO at the student’s current school is responsible for certifying a prior STEM degree, which must be received within 10 years prior to the DSO recommendation.    The prior degree cannot be an overseas campus.  

Volunteering and a Bona Fide Employer-Employee Relationship -- The student may not receive an OPT STEM extension for a volunteer opportunity.  The student must have a bona fide employer-employee relationship with an employer.  Students may be employed by start-up businesses, but all regulatory and attestations much be met.


Application Process for OPT STEM extension

Optional Practical Training - STEM Extension Instructions

Information On H1-B Cap Gap

You can find information related to H1-B Cap Gap at the below links:  

EAD card mailing service

ISS office will contact you by your " email" after we received your EAD card. You will be provided with two options:

  • Pick up in person ONLY (no family or friends)
  • E-ship (at your expense using Visa, Mastercard, or Discover cards only).
    • E-ship is Express Shipping for International Students & Scholars. (Click HERE to visit University Express Mail Services)
    • To create an account, please go to the Registration page. You can also simply click the Register here link beneath the sign in box in the middle of any UEMS sign-in page.
    • After successful registration and log in to the website, you are able to create your shipment form for EAD card and pay online.

Eship Instructions:

Please go to the following website: (works best with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers) -

You must pay for the shipping charges using a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover card.

a) To use this service, you will be required to create your own account .You must use the website provided above and do not go through the FedEx or DHL website directly.
b) Select “Receive documents” under the “Universities” tab. Then choose “OSU Main Campus” and please select “International Students and Scholars” as the sender address.
c) When prompted on their page, be sure to enter your name and CWID exactly as it appears on your OSU admission documents.
d) Select the shipment service you wish to choose. Once you make the payment, an email confirmation will be sent to you about your order. The ISS Office will send you the packet.               

Errors in the information you provide to eShipGlobal will result in a delay of mailing the documents to you.
Please note that the ISS Office will no longer accept credit card information directly from students. All students are required to use eShipGlobal services for express mailing.