For international students, working in the US under the Optional Training Program (“OPT”) can be a valuable experience. Students who plan to apply for OPT should carefully keep track of filing deadlines so as to avoid a denial. In particular, students should keep the following two deadlines in mind when filing for OPT.
- There is a 150-day window in which to file an application for OPT with their Designated School Official (DSO). The application must be filed:
a. Up to 90 days before the end-date for the academic program, or
b. No later than 60 days after the program end-date
- After the DSO enters the OPT recommendation in the student’s SEVIS record, the student must file an application for employment authorization (Form I-765) with USCIS within 30 days of the date that the DSO entered the recommendation.
Timing matters. Recently, some USCIS Service Centers have been denying applications for employment authorization submitted more than 30 days after the DSO recommendation was entered into SEVIS. Under the same circumstances in the past, the Service Centers would typically request a new Form I-20 signed by the DSO rather than deny the application.