OPT Application Instructions

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Application Instructions

Updated Procedures for AY 2020/2021: OPT applications will be reviewed virtually by the IS&S team. Once your application is complete and all materials are ready to be mailed, a new I-20 will be issued to you electronically. You must wait to receive your new I-20 before mailing your application to USCIS. See below for detailed instructions.

1) To Begin the OPT Application Process

  • OPT Instructions - Read the “OPT Information” page on the OPT website before beginning this application
  • GWR Requirement - Satisfy or plan to complete your Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR) during your final term
  • Academic Advisor Email - Ask your Academic Advisor to send an email to intlservices@calpoly.edu and copy you to verify that you are on track to complete your degree by the end of your final quarter
  • Update your “CC Email Address” in your Int’l Student Portal profile – This has to be a non- Cal Poly email that will be used to contact you about OPT reporting after graduation. To edit your profile, click the “Edit Profile” button on the homepage of your Int’l Student Portal 

2) Send PDF copies of the documents below to intlservices@calpoly.edu

  • Requested OPT Start Date (must be within 60 days of graduation):            /        /          
  •  Two passport-style photos
    • Refer to the government’s Photo Requirements Webpage
    • Place the photos in an envelope marked "PHOTOS." Write your name and I-94 admission number in pencil (NO INK) on a small sticky note and attach it to the back of each photo  
  • Filing Fee of $410
    • Note: USCIS had planned a fee increase to $550 effective October 2nd, 2020. On September 29th, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily enjoined DHS from implementing the fee change. Before making your payment, be sure to check USCIS's website for the current fee information.
    • Personal check/money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. An example of how to fill out a personal check can be found here
    • Credit Card (for P.O. Box shipments only) payments can be made by completing a G- 1450 Form  
  • G-1145 Form – Download and complete the G-1145 Form to receive electronic notification that your application has been received. Put a Non-Cal Poly email on this form  
  • I-765 Form - Download Form I-765 and save it to your computer so you can fill in the form via Adobe. Instructions on how to fill out form I-765 can be found here. You are responsible for fully completing the form, paying attention to the items listed below:
    • For Part 1, next to “I Am Applying For:”, check box 1.a. Permission to accept employment.
    • The mailing address listed on page 2 should be an address where you want the EAD card mailed. Keep in mind your EAD card may be mailed in 3-5 months
      • The mailing address for your OPT application will depend on the state you live in. See these instructions on where to mail your application to
    • Questions 13.a. – 15 are regarding social security
      • If you do not have a social security card, you can use this Form I-765 to apply for one
    • On line 27, fill in (c) (3) (B) – Make sure your “c” is lowercase and your “B” is uppercase
    • Complete Part 3 and provide your signature in black ink on page 5. The signature must fit within the signature box
    • Parts 4 & 5 only need to be completed if you had someone else help interpret or prepare the form for you
    • For Part 6, you must provide all previously used SEVIS numbers and evidence of any previously authorized CPT or OPT and the academic level at which it was authorized. Previous CPT experience should be noted in the following format:
      • (Boxes 3.a., 3.b., and 3.c. can be left blank.) Paragraph 3.d. should be completed as follows:
      • Bachelor's/Master's degree in (major)
      • SEVIS #
      • Full/part-time CPT
      • Start date - end date
  • I-94 Electronic Copy – Use the Electronic I-94 Retrieval Form to access your most recent I-94
  • Passport Copies - Black ink copies (no color copies) of your passport. We only need the pages of your passport that show your photo, passport expiration, any extensions, your most recent F-1 visa, and latest US entry ink-stamp
  • I-20 Copies - Black ink copies (no color copies) of all Cal Poly I-20s
    • Include pgs. 1 & 2
    • Double sided recommended
    • Also include any I-20s with CPT authorizations from previous institutions, if you transferred to Cal Poly
  • Previous EAD Card Copies (if applicable) - A copy of the front/back of any previous EAD cards
  • Change of Status in the U.S. (if applicable) - If you were approved for change of status to F-1 and do not have an F-1 visa, bring a photocopy of your Approval Notice  

3) Mailing Instructions

  • Once the IS&S team has reviewed your documents and your application is ready to be mailed, you will be issued a new I-20 that you must print ant sign. A copy of this new, signed I-20 must be included in your application.
  • Be sure to keep copies of all your application materials for your records.
  • You are responsible for mailing your OPT application. The mailing address of where you ship your OPT application will depend on 1) the state you live in AND 2) how you are shipping your application (USPS or express courier). See USCIS instructions on where to ship your application. USCIS has recently updated their mailing instructions for OPT applications and these must now be mailed to the Chicago Lockbox:  


U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
PO Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517


  • If you choose to send your packet via USPS, You will need to go to a post office to pay for postage and certified mail if you want proof of delivery. If you use certified mail, keep your receipt and the green postcard you will receive in the mail showing proof of delivery
  • If you choose to send your packet via express courier (UPS, Fedex or DHL), you will need to work with your courier of choice on how you want your packet shipped
  • F-1 regulations require that the application be received within 30 days from the date your new OPT I-20 is issued

  4) Next Steps

  • A Receipt Notice will be sent within a few weeks after your application is received
  • You can follow-up on the status of your application after you receive your receipt notice. The receipt notice has a case number. Check the Online Case Status webpage for the status of your application
  • You can choose to continue purchasing the campus health insurance plan
  • If you move while your OPT application is pending, you will need to submit a Change of Address request directly with USCIS. If the EAD card is mailed to an old address, the post office will not forward it to you. It will be returned to immigration and you will have to apply again and repay the fee.
  • If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE), notify the International Center immediately for assistance
  • The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card will be mailed to the address on your I- 765 Form. Your approved employment dates will be listed on your EAD card so you must receive the EAD before you can begin employment