Optional practical training is employment authorization for off-campus work that is directly related to your major field of study. To be eligible for OPT, you must be in lawful F-1 status for one full academic year prior to applying, have a passport valid for at least six months into the future and have accumulated less than one year of full-time CPT.
After completing the necessary paperwork, submit an online OPT Request and bring the following documents (do not staple) to the International Center:
Do not submit your check or photos to the International Center.
After you submit your application and drop off your documents at the International Center, an international student adviser will process your application within five business days. When your documents have been signed, the adviser will email you and leave your documents at the front desk for you to pick up.
Send your completed application to the USCIS Phoenix lockbox:
|By U.S. Postal Service||By express service (e.g., UPS, FedEx)|
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
|USCIS, Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Approximately two weeks after you mail your OPT application, you will receive a receipt from USCIS confirming that they have received your documents. The receipt will have a receipt number (the YSC number) that you may use to check the status of your application through the USCIS Case Status Online system.
USCIS will make a decision on your application within 120 days. If approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document in the mail. You may begin working when you have the EAD card and the employment start date on it has arrived.
During OPT, you will continue to be an MU F-1 student; you are simply an F-1 student on OPT. Therefore, you must keep the International Center informed of any changes of address or employer. You may update your employer or address information through the online Document Request System.
Your I-20 will be valid past its program end date if the OPT authorization dates on your I-20 have not passed. If you plan to travel while on OPT, you must have a valid travel signature on your I-20, signed within the last six months.
F-1 status and work authorization are automatically extended if you are on OPT and have a pending H-1B petition with an Oct. 1 start date. This extension is valid until the H-1B petition is rejected or if the petition is approved Oct. 1. This automatic extension is available to all OPT participants, not just those with STEM degrees. To see this extension reflected on your I-20, contact the International Center to reprint your document.
Published by the International Center, N52 Memorial Union, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211 | Phone: 573-882-6007 | Fax: 573-882-3223
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