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Updated April 26, 2021

USCIS is now accepting online Form I-765 applications for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and the 24-month STEM Extension of Optional Practical Training, in addition to the paper version of Form I-765. The online I-765 application is available ONLY for F-1 students applying for OPT or the STEM Extension of OPT. It cannot be used for any other type of employment authorization application.

Please keep in mind that the online application method is new. As with any new system, there may be unanticipated questions or processing issues. USCIS predicts that I-765 processing times for online applications will be about the same as processing times for paper applications. However, applying online will let you receive immediate confirmation that your application was received. Let us know your experience by sending your comments and observations to internationalcenter@tufts.edu.

If you prefer to submit your application using the paper version of Form I-765, read our paper-based I-765 application information guide.

Important

DO NOT start the I-765 application process UNLESS you have already received a new OPT or STEM Extension OPT I-20 from the International Center. You cannot apply for OPT or the STEM Extension of OPT until you have received your new OPT I-20 or STEM Extension I-20 from the International Center. Read more about applying for F-1 post-completion OPT or the 24-month STEM Extension of OPT.

The online version of the I-765 application will ask you the same questions, and require you to submit the same information, as the paper version of Form I-765. However, some key differences include:

  • You will use an email address to create your own personal USCIS account through the myUSCIS portal
  • Once you log into the myUSCIS portal, you will be able to start and complete an online I-765 application form
  • You will have the ability to save and return to the I-765 application at later times, but if the application is not completed within 30 days, the information will be erased and you will need to start over
  • In addition to answering questions, you will be required to upload digital copies of required photos and documents, including a digital passport photo and digital copies of your OPT I-20 (or STEM Extension I-20), passport identification page, past Employment Authorization (EAD) cards, and other requirements
  • You will be signing your online application electronically
  • You will be submitting an electronic payment of the required I-765 application fee by authorizing a direct withdrawal from your US bank account or US credit or debit card
  • Once your application fee is paid and your application is officially submitted to USCIS, you will automatically receive an electronic receipt number (a paper version will also be mailed to you), as well as options to track your application, submit additional information if requested by USCIS, and take other actions regarding your application.

Whether applying online or by paper, you should keep in mind that the I-765 application is your personal application for employment authorization. You are responsible for following all USCIS instructions and making sure that the application is correct and complete. The International Center will not have access to your application and cannot correct, edit, or change any information on your application for you. If you have any issues or questions regarding your I-765 application, you will need to work directly with USCIS.

When you submit the online I-765 application for OPT, you will need to prepare the following information and documents. You will be entering information and uploading photos and documents into USCIS's system once you start your application.

Prepare Your Form I-765 Application Responses

  • The online I-765 application for employment authorization will ask you to provide your personal information including but not limited to:
    • Biographical Information
    • Contact Information
    • Latest Travel Information
    • Immigration and Status Information
    • OPT eligibility questions
  • We recommend reviewing and using the attached Tip Sheet for Completing the Online I-765

Prepare Your Digital Photos

  • You must prepare a digital passport photo taken within the last thirty days and the photo must follow US passport photo standards
  • You can either create a high-quality scan of a paper passport photo or use a smartphone or digital camera to create your own photo; in either case be sure they meet USCIS's photo requirements
  • Be sure to check that your photo file has an acceptable name that follows USCIS's file name formatting guidelines, and is saved as either a .jpeg / .jpg or .png file

Prepare Clear Digital Copies of Required Documents

Save all documents as .pdf or .jpeg documents and follow USCIS's requirements for file names - e.g., do not use special characters or leave blank spaces in your file names.

  • Your OPT I-20 or STEM Extension I-20 (be sure you have signed it at the bottom of page 1, in the "Student Attestation" section)
  • Passport identification page (submit as government-issued ID)
  • Any previously-issued Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) cards, if applicable
  • Form I-94 arrival record - print out your most recent I-94 record from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov and save as a .pdf
  • You do not need to include copies of past I-20s, but you should have this information available to enter into your application
    • Dates for any past periods of OPT, STEM Extension OPT, or CPT authorization, including dates and educational level (e.g., "CPT authorized from 6/1/2018 - 8/31/2018 during bachelor's studies.")
    • Your current SEVIS ID number (refer to your most recent I-20) and past SEVIS ID number(s), if applicable
  • Proof of enrollment - this is required for students applying for pre-completion OPT.
    • This can include an enrollment verification form (print out from the 'Academics' section of SIS) or a copy of an unofficial or official transcript (also available through SIS)
  • Evidence of STEM degree- this is only required for students applying for STEM Extension OPT.
    • Evidence of a degree that is the basis for STEM OPT such as copy of an unofficial or official transcript  or copy of diploma.

STEM Extension applicants only: If you are applying for the 24-month STEM Extension based on a prior STEM degree (i.e., a degree received before your Tufts degree), you must submit proof of completion of the STEM degree. This may include a copy of your diploma, transcript, and/or I-20 from your previous school, showing that you received a degree in a STEM area that is eligible for the STEM extension. Your previous degree must have been awarded from an accredited US institution of higher education currently eligible to sponsor F-1 students. For this evidence, you may wish to contact the international office of your former university for a letter that confirms these details.

Create Your USCIS Account

Once you have collected your information and documents, you can start the online application process. You will first need to create a myUSCIS account.

  • Set up your myUSCIS account by going to my.uscis.gov and selecting "Sign In" --> "Create Account"
    • You can also create an account from the main USCIS home page at https://www.uscis.gov --> "Sign In" --> "Create Account"
    • Another option is to go to the File Online section of the USCIS web site and clicking on the "Create an Account or Sign In" box
  • You must use a unique e-mail to create your myUSCIS account
  • The system will send you a one-time PIN to log into your account; you will need to continue to use two-factor authentication when signing back into your account
  • Follow all other USCIS instructions to finalize the account creation process
  • Keep your account information secure as you will need to return to your account to finish the application and to view updates once you have submitted your application

Once you create your myUSCIS account, read through USCIS's Tips for Filing Forms Online page. After you have reviewed the information, start your online I-765 application (next step).

Start Your Online Form I-765 Application

Once you have created and logged into your myUSCIS account, follow these steps to file your online I-765 application.

  • Look for the option to "File an Form Online"
  • Look for the option to file Form I-765 (toward the bottom) - be sure to select the correct form! 
  • Once you have selected Form I-765, you will be prompted to start the online I-765 application
    • Use this Tip Sheet for guidance
    • Remember to select the correct eligibility code when asked:
      • (c)(3)(A) for pre-completion Optional Practical Training (rare)
      • (c)(3)(B) for post-completion Optional Practical Training (most common - for employment following graduation)
      • (c)(3)(C) for the 24-month STEM Extension of OPT (for STEM majors)
  • You will be able to save and return to the application at a later time and date, but you should complete all application steps within 30 days of receiving your OPT I-20 or 60 days of receiving your STEM Extension I-20
    • In addition, the last day USCIS will take any application for OPT is no later than sixty days after your program completion date (program end date on your I-20) or
    • No later than the last day of your post-completion OPT period, if you applying for the 24-month STEM Extension of OPT
  • If you do not complete your online application within 30 days of starting the process, the system will erase all of your submissions and you will need to start over

Upload Required Documents and Evidence

After you have completed the I-765 form, you will need to upload required documents and evidence that you prepared. These will include digital copies / versions of:

  • Your passport photo
  • Your signed OPT / STEM Extension I-20
  • Your I-94 record
  • Your passport identification page, under Government ID
  • Proof of enrollment (i.e. academic transcripts, copy of diploma), if applicable
  • Evidence of STEM degree, if applicable

Submit Payment: IMPORTANT

  • Once you are ready, the system will direct you to Pay.gov, a US government payment site, to pay the required I-765 application fee
  • There, you will be able to pay the application fee using a US credit / debit card or through an ACH transfer (direct withdrawal) from your US checking account
    • If you pay by direct withdrawal, you will need to provide your bank account number and your bank's ABA routing number
    • Look at a copy of a bank check or bank statement from your account for your account number and your bank's ABA routing number, or contact your bank for assistance
  • IMPORTANT: Once you submit your payment information and that payment is successfully received, USCIS considers your application OFFICIALLY SUBMITTED
    • You cannot change or edit your I-765 application responses after payment has been submitted
    • Keep in mind the fee is non-refundable once payment has been made
  • Once your application is submitted, your application will automatically be assigned a USCIS receipt number
    • You can print out an electronic receipt from your myUSCIS portal
    • A paper receipt will follow in the mail a few weeks after the electronic submission

Monitor Your myUSCIS Account

After you have submitted your application, you are responsible for monitoring your myUSCIS account for messages and updates. Through your account, you should be able to:

  • print an electronic receipt (a paper receipt will also be mailed to you)
  • send additional information, in case you receive a request for additional evidence (RFE) from USCIS
  • communicate with USCIS about your case
  • print a PDF version of your application for your records

We recommend that you notify the International Center if USCIS requests any additional information regarding your case, so that we can help to advise you on your options. However, you will have the option of communicating directly with USCIS regarding your case and submitting responses to any requests for additional evidence or information.

Biometrics Appointment

In most cases, F-1 students will NOT be required to schedule a biometrics appointment with USCIS as a part of the I-765 application process. A biometrics appointment involves appearing at a USCIS Application Support Center to have your photographs, fingerprints, and signature taken. If you are asked to do a biometrics appointment, you will receive a notice from USCIS to schedule an appointment. Please notify the International Center in case you are asked to schedule a biometrics appointment.

Change of US Address

If you change your US address and want your EAD sent to another US mailing address, you should

  • update your address information in your myUSCIS account portal by following the change of address instructions on USCIS's Tips for Filing Forms Online page
  • update the International Center following instructions on our Address Update page

Update your address at any time while your I-765 is being processed and after your EAD has been approved. You should make address updates within 10 days of any move at all times while you are an F-1 student.