STEP 1: Determine your program completion date. ISP will shorten your I-20 program date to match this completion date.
- PhD: Your program completion date is as early as your defense date or as late as the end of the academic term in which you defend.
- Master's: If you will graduate in June, after 3 academic terms, your program completion date is the same as Caltech's Commencement date. If you will extend your program so that you will complete after 4 academic terms, it is the end of Fall term.
- Bachelor's: If you are graduating in June, your program completion date is the same as Caltech's Commencement date. If you will extend your program so that you will complete after Fall or Winter term, your program completion date will be the end of the academic term in which you last enrolled.
STEP 2: Determine your OPT Start Date The OPT Start Date is the date you want your period of post-completion work authorization to begin.
- Cannot be changed after your OPT application has been mailed
- USCIS-approved OPT Start Date may differ from the requested date, due to USCIS processing times
- Must be after your program completion date but no more than 60 days after your program completion date
- Absolutely no employment of any kind during any gap between your program completion date and OPT Start Date. This includes being paid by Caltech as a student.
STEP 3: Email ISP to request your OPT I-20 Provide the following information:
- Your program completion date
- OPT start date
- (Optional) A job offer is not required to apply for OPT, but if you have a job offer, provide the complete U.S. address for the employment site (where you will work), the Job Start Date, and a brief (1 - 2 sentences, maximum) description of how the job will be directly related to your major field of study
STEP 4: ISP will issue your OPT I-20
- ISP will issue and sign your OPT I-20 with the information you provided from Step 3.
- ISP will email you a PDF copy of your OPT I-20 to print, sign and date. You MUST sign and date the printed I-20 at the bottom page 1 above your name before mailing with your completed OPT application.
- The original copy of your OPT I-20 will be placed in the ISP Pick-Up Box for you to collect at your convenience.
STEP 5: Assemble and Mail Your OPT Application with Supporting Documents
- Application filing fee: Personal check or money order from a US-based bank, payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Current filing fee is $410, but always confirm USCIS current fees and filing procedures.
- Two recent and identical U.S.-style passport ID photos. Note: Photos must not have been used for your passport or previous U.S. visa. Photos should have been taken within the last 30 days.
- Printout of electronic I-94
- Copy of F-1 visa (valid or expired). Canadian citizens exempt from the visa requirement.
- Copy of valid passport ID page.
- Copy of any previous EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and copy of any corresponding OPT I-20 (if applicable)
- Complete and print USCIS Form G-1145. This form will allow a text message and/or email to be sent to you when USCIS accepts your OPT application. (Form G-1145 is optional, but recommended by ISP)
- Complete and print Form I-765 via fillable PDF or handwritten in black ink. IMPORTANT: Carefully follow ISP's "How to Complete Form I-765" on the tab above
- Mail Form I-765, OPT I-20, and all other supporting documentation to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox address, based on where you currently reside. You can mail the application via regular mail (USPS), or you may choose to send the application via express mail, using the USCIS Lockbox express mail address, per mailing instructions.
IMPORTANT: Be Careful of Application Timeline & Mailing
The completed OPT application
- cannot be received by USCIS more than 90 days prior to the program completion dated (I-20 end date, page 1)
- must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the date ISP issued the OPT I-20
- must be received by USCIS within 60 days after your academic completion date.
Your application will be rejected if it does not meet these filing requirements.
If you wish to have ISP review your application prior to submission, prepare all documents and email the PDF (without the SSN) to ISP.
STEP 1: Download the current version of the blank USCIS OPT application, Form I-765:
STEP 2: Decide how you will complete Form I-765
- Use the fillable PDF to type and print your responses
- Print the paper form and complete using BLACK ink pen
STEP 3: Before You Begin
If a question does not apply to you, type or print N/A or NONE. Do not leave any response field empty unless otherwise directed below. If writing on Form I-765 use only black ink.
STEP 4: Complete the Form I-765 using the instructions provided below. Form I-765 is divided into 6 different parts.
Part 1 (Reason for Applying)
- Mark the box (1.a.) for "Initial permission to accept employment."
Part 2 (Information About You)
- Your Full Legal Name: Enter your legal name as it appears in the Machine Readable Zone of your passport. This should also match your I-20.
Part 2 (Other Names Used)
- Box 2.a - 2.c. List any other names or spellings of your name that have been used in the past
Part 2 (Your US Mailing Address)
- ISP recommends you use the ISP address to prevent lost documents. ISP will email you upon receipt of documents.
1200 E California Blvd, Ste. 250-86
Pasadena, CA 91125
- Enter your current residential address in the U.S. physical address section.
Part 2 (Other Information)
- #8-9: you do NOT likely have an Alien Registration Number or USCIS online account
- #12: Mark "Yes" ONLY if you previously filed Form I-765
- #13.a. Mark "Yes" if you already have a Social Security Number
- #14: Check "No" if you already hold an SSN, then skip to Item #18.
Part 2 (Your Country of Countries of Citizenship or Nationality)
- #18: List your citizenship
- #19 -20: Indicate your place and date of birth
Part 2 (Information About Your Last Arrival in the United States)
- #21.a. Admission (I-94) Record Number: Download and print your I-94 from the I-94 Official Retrieval Website. Use your I-94 to complete items #21.a., #22, and #23.
#26. SEVIS Number is found on the top left portion, marked SEVIS ID.
Part 2 (Information About Your Eligibility Category)
- #27. Enter (c) (3) (B) as the code for applying for the initial 12 months of OPT. #28 - #31.b. These do not apply - you can leave these fields blank.
Part 3 (Applicant's Statement, Contact Info, Declaration and Signature)
- #1.a. - #6: Complete with your appropriate information
- #7.a. Write small. Your signature MUST fit inside the black signature box. Your signature CANNOT touch or cross the black signature box. Use only BLACK ink. No digital signatures are permitted.
Part 4 (Interpreter's Contact Information, Certification, and Signature)
- #1.a. Write "None" The remaining boxes (#1.b. - #7.b) in this section can remain empty.
Part 5 (Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, If Other Than the Applicant)
- #1.a. Write "None" The remaining boxes (#1.b. - #8.b) in this section can remain empty.
Part 6 (Additional Information)
- #1.a - 1.c: Write your names as they appear in the other sections you completed this form (Form I-765)
- #2-#3c: Leave blank
Part 6 (Additional Information)
- #3d: List any previous SEVIS ID numbers used that are different from your current SEVIS ID number (You may have been issued a different SEVIS ID number if you took a leave from Caltech or attended a different school in the US), otherwise write "No other SEVIS ID number used".
- #3d: Also list any CPT you used at Caltech. CPT is used for internships. If you did NOT use CPT at Caltech, then print "No CPT used" in this section.
- #3d: Also list any dates and the degree level of any previous OPT used, or write "No previous OPT"
Example of what to write in area #3d:
- No other SEVIS ID number used (or) SEVIS ID Nxxxxxxxxxx previously used
- No CPT used (or) Full-Time CPT used: 06/01 - 10/01/2019
- No previous OPT (or) OPT used: start date - end date at BS degree level
NOTE: Part 6 is required. Do NOT leave blank.