Applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training is most commonly used by students to gain work experience in their field of study after completing a degree program. There are certain other situations in which OPT may be possible prior to completion of a degree program.
Applications for optional practical training for students at Texas Tech University must be submitted by mail to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). When approved, an EAD card (Form I-766) will be mailed to the address which is listed on the student’s I-765 application form. DHS strongly recommends that students use the mailing address of the international office: Office of International Affairs, Box 45004 Texas Tech, Lubbock, TX 79409-5004.
DHS regulations allow up to 12 months of OPT at each degree level for a student in F-1 status. A student must have been in F-1 status for at least 9 consecutive months to be eligible for OPT. In certain circumstances, time spent in full-time study in another immigration status may count toward satisfying the 9-month rule. Certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students may be eligible for an extension of 17 months of OPT (See the “OPT STEM Extension Application” to determine eligibility).
An application for post-completion OPT can be filed up to 90 days prior to the student’s completion date and no later than 60 days after the student’s program-end date. It may take DHS 60 to 90 days or more to process an OPT application. The International Student Counselor may be able to provide a current estimate of processing times. However, DHS processing is erratic, and should never be depended upon to provide prompt and timely service. Applications should be submitted at least 90 days prior to the date you want to begin working. You cannot begin working until you have received your EAD card. (STEM extension applicants are allowed to continue working for up to 180 days while the application is pending, provided that the I-765 was filed in a timely manner.) Temporary EAD cards are not available. Please note that F-1 on-campus employment authorization with the University ends upon completion of the degree program.
Students cannot accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during post-completion OPT (the period of time between the beginning and end dates shown on the EAD card). Students must report to the designated TTU International Student Counselor the name and address of their employer, employment supervisor, and the date of employment and a date of termination of employment. Employment information must be updated immediately upon any change of employment and must be reconfirmed at least every six months. This employment information will be shared with the Department of Homeland Security.
Application Procedures for applicants:
1) Obtain an “Academic Advisor’s Recommendation for Optional Practical Training” signed by your advisor for OPT. (Form available on this web page.)
2) Complete a form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization” fill in item 16 as shown here “(c)(3)(A)” for pre-completion OPT; (c)(3)(B) for post-completion OPT; or (c)(3)(C) for STEM extensions. (Form available on USCIS web page)
3) A copy of any previously issued EAD cards.
4) Two color passport photos taken within the last thirty days. Photo standards are available from the U.S. Department of State at http://travel.state.gov/passport/pptphotos/index.html
5) Copy of front and back of Form I-94, Departure Record.
6) Obtain an I-20 with an International Student Counselor’s recommendation for OPT.
7) Provide a check for $380 payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
8) For STEM extension applications, complete an “OPT STEM Extension Application.”