USCIS Checklist for F-1 Practical Training

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not e-file your OPT application with USCIS! Students who e-file have experienced problems and delays with their applications. Apply for OPT by mailing a paper application.

Cover Letter

Download our example of a cover letter.

  • Check that the employment dates are the same as those on page three of the latest I-20 (endorsed for OPT).
  • When describing your type of employment application, only mention either Part-Time or Full-Time, not both.
  • Include your SEVIS# e.g. N000…(can be found on the top of I-20)and I-94# (all 11 digits, not just the first 9)
  • Mention any previous EAD cards, dates of previous OPT, degree level OPT was based on, etc.
  • If you want the EAD card sent to a friend's address, PO Box, etc, you must specifically mention and highlight this part of your cover letter. Please note that this address must be the same address as on the I-765 form.
  • Sign the cover letter.

Note: Place all of the supporting documents in the same order as specified on the cover letter.

Form I-765

Download the I-765 form here arrow

NOTE: If you are using a Mac, you should use Safari to open, fill out the form I-765 and print. If you use Firefox, first download the PDF form to the desktop (or your 'Downloads' folder), then open it with Acrobat Reader 9 or higher (NOT Preview). You cannot open the PDF form from the 'Download' window of Firefox.

We recommend that this document be filled using Adobe Reader to avoid errors. Be sure to submit the most current version of the I-765 form found on the USCIS website

• Check an appropriate box – Please check ONLY ONE box.

  • Permission to accept employment - if you are a new applicant.
  • Replacement - if you lost your EAD card.
  • Renewal of my permission to accept employment - if you are applying for a STEM extension.

Failure to check the appropriate box will result in the application being returned.


• (SECT 1) CAPITALIZE your family name only (not your first name).


• (SECT 3) Address should match where you want the card to be sent

(As noted on cover letter) e.g. friends address*, PO Box, etc. Please note that address should be valid at least 90 days.
*If sending to your friend’s address, please indicate as below:


Note: If you will be moving within the next 90-120 days, we recommend that you have your card sent to either your PO Box or a friend’s address (somewhere in California). Typical processing times can be up to 90 days or longer!

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• (SECT 10) Include your I-94 # (11 digits)


Note: If you find that you can only type the first nine digits of your I-94 number in Section 10, we recommend that you add the last two digits of your eleven digit I-94 number by hand when you print out the form. This is a known issue/bug with this form.

• (SECT 11) Only include previous OPT or any other work authorization by USCIS.

Do not include “CPT” endorsements. If you answered “YES” to the question, then the answers to the rest of section may be:

  • Which USCIS Office? Enter the name of one of the four USCIS Service Centers that processed your previous work authorization. If you don't remember which service center processed your request, check your receipt number for the first three letters to determine the service center:
    WAC = California Service Center
    EAC = Vermont Service Center
    LIN = Nebraska Service Center
    SRC = Texas Service Center
  • Date(s): Please find the “Received Date” in the Notice of Action letter (I-797C).
  • Results: Granted, Denied or Pending. Please include the application Receipt Number if you have it. The 13-character application Receipt Number can be found on application notices you have received from the USCIS. It begins with three letters such as (EAC, WAC, LIN, or SRC).

• (SECT 16) Verify that the correct code has been entered

OPT Type Code
Pre-Completion c 3 A
Post-Completion c 3 B
STEM Extension

c 3 C

Failure to mark the appropriate category will result in the application being returned.

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• (SECT 17) Should be left blank (unless applying for STEM extension).

  • OPT STEM Extension Applicants ONLY: Enter your degree, employer’s name (as listed in E-Verify) and their E-Verify Company Identification number (or their Client Company Identification Number).
  • OPT STEM Extension Applicants ONLY: Photocopy of your diploma reflecting the conferred degree as well as your major field of study



Sign the document correctly using black ink (do not touch off either black line, see our example below)

Note: Great care must be taken when signing the bottom of the I-765 form. Your signature is digitized and placed on to your EAD card. Your application for work authorization will be delayed if it is not done correctly.

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Fee – Check or Money Order

  • Visit the USCIS website for current filing fees. (*USCIS fees change periodically, and if the wrong fee amount is sent, the application will be returned.) We recommend that students use personal checks for ease of tracking purposes.
  • Made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Include your I-94# (and your name if you are using your friend’s check) in the memo section (usually bottom left of check) if there is space.
  • Add your name and address to the top left of check if it is not already there (assuming that you are using your own check).

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  • Two identical full-frontal color passport photographs measuring 2" by 2". The head of the image should measure between 1" and 1 3/8". (Click here for more information about the specifications.)
  • The photos should be recent, no more than 30 days old.
  • These photos can by taken at the I-Center's Overseas Resource Center or at any other place that takes good passport photos.
  • Print your name and I-94# on the back of both photos (Size: 2” X 2”).
  • Place them in an envelope.
  • Write your name and your I-94# clearly on the envelope.

Attach both the fee and the envelope containing the photos to the I-765 Form using paperclips.

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Photocopies included in application:

Photocopy of OPT endorsed I-20

  • Write “Photocopy of OPT Endorsed I-20” and your I-94# on the top of page one.
  • Make sure USCIS receives your application within 30 days of I-20 issuance date (PRINT DATE LOCATED IN SECTION 10 OF PAGE ONE)
  • Only photocopy page one and page three.

Photocopy of all previous I-20s

  • Write your I-94# across the top of page one of the first I-20.
  • Paperclip photocopy of page one and three of each I-20 together.
  • Paperclip all of the old I-20s together.

Photocopy of passport

  • Paperclip the information page(s) including your photo and expiration date of the passport and the latest F-1 Visa stamp together.
  • Write your I-94# on the first page of this section.
  • If your visa stamp is in your old expired passport, just include copy of visa page.

Photocopy of back and front of I-94 card/print out of I-94 record

  • Paperclip both photocopies together
  • NOTE: Even if you obtain a new I-94 through travel, you don’t need to update it with USCIS.
  • Photocopy of back and front of previous EAD card(s) [If applicable]

    • Paperclip both photocopies together.
    • Write “Photocopy of front and back of previous EAD card based on [Degree Level]” on the first page of this section.

    Photocopy of any previous USCIS-approved employment authorizations (If applicable)

    • Write your I-94# on the first page of each previous USCIS-approved employment authorization.

    Photocopy of Diploma (if applying for a STEM extension)

    • Write your I-94# on the photocopy of your Diploma.

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    Mailing I-765 and supporting documents to USICS. Click here for addresses

    It is strongly advised that you mail it by "certified mail with a return receipt" or by courier service (e.g. FedEx) to have proof that your application was received.

    Please make a photocopy of your application before mailing to USCIS for your record.

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