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Filing the Paper Based Form I-765


This page provides detailed instructions on how to fill out the I-765 if you are applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) by mail. If you instead wish to file the I-765 for OPT online, we have a separate resource for that.

The following instructions are provided as a service solely to the international students of Stony Brook University who are applying for Optional Practical Training. Due to frequent government updates, VIS may make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on this page at any time without prior notice.

These directions are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services ultimately provides the decision on your OPT application. It is your responsibility, as the OPT applicant, to ensure that your OPT application is accurate and complete before you submit it to the US government. Incomplete applications could result in a delay in processing time or denial. Stony Brook University in no event shall be held liable for any delay, denial, or mistake on your OPT application.

Download the most recent Form I-765 directly from USCIS’ website. We strongly recommend that you type your answers to prevent unclear handwriting from causing errors on your EAD, and mail delivery issues or delays.

Step 1: Prepare Your Supporting Documents for the OPT Application

If eligible, VIS email you a link to download your Form I-20 recommending Post Completion OPT. Be sure print and sign this new "OPT I-20" in blue ink. If you notice any mistakes on your I-20 please contact your VIS Advisor immediately.

Each document you print for your application should be single-sided. Gather and prepare these items for your OPT application:

  • Cover Letter: Addressed to USCIS detailing all documents enclosed.
  • $410 Application Fee: Fee payment in the form of a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions found at www.uscis.gov. If paying by check, it must have your name and address pre-printed in the top left corner and be made payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If you have to hand write in either your name or address on the check then we recommend getting a money order instead. Write SEVIS ID on check/money order. Do NOT send your money order separate from the application the money order is for. Your money order should be included with your other application materials.
  • Passport-Style Photos: Two identical passport-style photographs, issued within the last 30 days, name and I-94 # gently written on back. See Department of State’s guidelines.
  • Form G-1145: Download from uscis.gov, include your full name, email address and telephone number. This optional form tells USCIS that you’d like to be notified upon receipt of your application.
  • Form I-765: Download the most recent Form I-765 from uscis.gov (Fill-able PDF version recommended). Complete and sign by hand. (More detailed information on completing the I-765 are listed below)
  • I-20 Recommending OPT: Provide a signed and dated copy.
  • All previously issued I-20s: Provide photocopies of all Form I-20s ever issued to you.
  • Passport: A photocopy of your passport identification page, clearly indicating your passport name, nationality, date of birth, and the passport expiration date/
  • F-1 Visa: A photocopy of your F-1 visa (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
  • Form I-94: Provide a copy of your most recent I-94, clearly indicating that you are in F-1 status. Download your electronic I-94 from CBP's website.
  • Admission Stamp: Copy of your most recent admission stamp issued at the port of entry upon your latest arrival to the U.S. (in passport).
  • (If applicable) Previous EAD Card: If you were previously authorized to engage in OPT, provide a photocopy of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued to you.



Step 2: Complete the I-765

The only items from the Form I-765 that are highlighted on this this page are those that students commonly have questions on or are confused about. Please review each item carefully to ensure your I-765 is filled out correctly.

Part 1. Reason for Applying

Item 1:

  • Check the box “Initial permission to accept employment.”
  • If you lost your EAD and are applying for a replacement card, select "replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged employment authorization document NOT DUE to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) error."
  • If applying for the 24-Month STEM Extension please follow the I-765 Explained for STEM.
Part 2. Information About You

Item 1:

1.a. Enter your family name.

1.b. Enter your first name.

1.c. Include your middle name if you have one.

This name should match what is indicated on your passport.

Items 2-4:

Provide all other names you have ever used, including aliases, maiden name, and nicknames. Write “NA” on all the boxes (2.a.-4.c.) if you haven’t used another name.

Item 5:

Enter the mailing address where you wish to receive your EAD Card. The address must be within the U.S. and should be valid for next 3-6 months until your OPT application is approved.

If you believe you will change addresses within the next three months we recommend you instead list the address of a trusted friend or family member. If you choose to enter your friend’s or family member’s address, you must also include an “in care of” name for item 5.a.

You may list a US Post Office address (PO Box) if you have one.

Item 7:

If your U.S. Physical Address differs from your U.S. Mailing Address complete items 7a-7d

Item 12:

Select “Yes” if you have previously applied for OPT or ever submitted the I-765 for work authorization to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you select "Yes," you will also need to list each time you previously filed the Form I-765 in Part 6, page 7 of this Form I-765.

Select “No” if you have only ever worked on campus or been authorized for CPT, or if you have not previously worked.

Item 13a:

If you have ever received a Social Security card previously you must check "Yes", if not, check "No".

Item 13b:

Only answer this question if you have a Social Security Number and checked “Yes” for item 13a.

Items 16-17:

Only answer these questions if you do not have a Social Security card AND checked "Yes" for items 14-15.

By answering these questions you would be applying for a Social Security card with your Social Security number printed on it. Your SSN will be issued, and you will receive an SSN card within 2-4 weeks of your OPT application approval.

You will not need to submit a separate application for an SSN to the Social Security Administration.

Item 18:

Type or print the name of the country or countries where you are currently a citizen or national. If you are a citizen or national of more than one country, type or print the name of the foreign country that issued your last passport.

Items 19a - 19c:

Enter the name of the city, town, or village; state or province; and country where you were born.

Item 20:

Enter your date of birth in mm/dd/yyyy format in the space provided.

Item 21a:

Enter your most recent I-94 number. You can access your electronic I-94 at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov

Item 21b:

Enter your passport number.

Item 21c:

Enter "NA" for Travel Document Number.

Item 21d:

Enter the name of the country that issued your passport.

Item 21e:

Enter your passport expiration date.

Item 22:

Enter the last date you entered the U.S. For most of you this should be the date stamped in your passport.

Item 23:

Indicate city and state of your last arrival or entry into the US. This should be indicated by the three digit code stamped on your passport. For example, if you entered JFK, the stamp in your passport should indicate “NYC”. If you entered through Newark, the stamp on your passport should indicate “NEW”.

Item 24:

Your status of last entry should be "F-1 Student."

Item 25:

Your current status should be F-1 Student.

Item 26:

Enter your SEVIS ID number. This is the N# indicated on the top of your I-20.

Item 27:

  • If you are applying for Pre-Completion OPT enter the codes (c) (3) (A)
  • If you are applying for Post-Completion OPT enter the codes (c) (3) (B)

Item 28:

Write "NA" in the blank fields as it does not apply to OPT applications.

Items 29 through 31b:

Leave fields and checkboxes blank as it does not apply to OPT applications.

Part 3. Applicant's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature

Applicant's Statement

Select the box appropriate to your situation. If you select 1a, write “NA” in the text boxes for items 1b and 2.

Applicant’s Signature

Be sure to sign the form in black ink inside the box . Make sure only your signature is in the box and fits entirely within it, as the government will scan your signature for your approval document.

NOTE: The signature must be done by hand , the form cannot be electronically/digitally signed.

Parts 4 and 5: Interpreter’s/Attorney's Contact Information

Leave all text boxes blank if you have completed the I-765 yourself. If someone else has completed your I-765 for you, you should indicate their contact information. Regardless of answers, these pages must be included in your application.

Part 6. Additional Information

For Items 1a - 1c, you must enter your name. Then, you complete the remaining questions in this section only if:

  • You have previously been approved for CPT and/or OPT
  • You have had a different SEVIS ID number while in F-1 status (for example, you attended school but left for a leave of absence, then returned to school with a new I-20).


If you have previously been approved for CPT and/or OPT:

List any previous CPT or OPT authorizations you have had. Use separate fields for each type of authorization (for example, list all previous CPT or previous OPT in separate boxes).

Reference Page 3, Part 2, Item 27 in the fields provided.

  • CPT: List all previous CPT approvals. We suggest this format: Previous CPT Authorizations (as the title to this section); your SEVIS ID number; degree level when CPT was authorized; whether the authorization was part-time (20 hours or fewer per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week); employer's name; employment start date - employment end date . You can find all of your previous CPT details on the I-20 that was approved for each period of CPT.

For example:
SEVIS ID N0123456789
Master's
Previous CPT Authorization:
Part-Time, Top Job Inc., 01/15/2018 - 05/15/2018
Full-Time , Top Job Inc., 12 / 20 /2017 - 01 / 14 /2017

  • OPT: List all previous OPT approvals. We suggest this format: Previous OPT Authorizations (as the title to this section); your SEVIS ID number; degree level when OPT was authorized; whether the authorization was part-time (20 hours or fewer per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week); your OPT approved start date - OPT approved end date.

For example:
SEVIS ID N0123456789
Bachelor 's
Previous OPT Authorization:
Post Completion OPT, Full-Time , 12 / 20 /2015- 12 / 19 /2016
Pre-Completion OPT, Part-Time, 06/01/2015 - 08/21/2015


If you had a previous SEVIS ID number:

List out any of the previous SEVIS ID numbers you have had. Use separate fields for each type of authorization and/or SEVIS IDnumber.

Reference Page 3, Part 2, Item 26 in the fields provided.

  • List all other SEVIS ID numbers you have used in the past. We suggest this format: Previous SEVIS ID numbers (as the title for this section); your previous SEVIS ID number; program start and end dates for that previous SEVIS ID number; degree level.

For example:
Previous SEVIS ID number: N0012345678
Program Dates: 09/05/2015 - 05/15/2017
Degree Level: High School

 

Step 3: Assemble and Review Your OPT Application

Be sure you have completed the I-765 form and assembled your OPT application, based on our I-765 Tutorial for Filing the Form I-765 by Mail. Incomplete or incorrect applications can cause serious delays so go over the item checklist in Step 1 one more time and make sure you’ve included everything. Make sure to include the original check / money order, original photos and original I-765 and G-1145. Everything else should be a copy. Keep a photocopy of your complete OPT application for your records. If you have questions about your application, schedule an online advising appointment.

If you decide NOT to apply for or use your OPT:

You must notify us. If you fail to notify us, your ability to work in the US in the future could be denied. 

Step 4: Send Your OPT Application by UPS/FedEx to the US Government

Students applying for pre- or post-completion OPT: USCIS must receive it within 30 days of the date your I-20 was issued.

Send your application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services by FedEx or UPS.

You can use eShipGlobal to get your shipping label at a discounted rate. You can even schedule pick up directly on UEMS (from your residential address) for your OPT packages to be mailed to USCIS office, at no additional cost.

Instructions for Students:

  1. Go to study.eshipglobal.com to log in or create a free account.
  2. Select "OPT Application" or "Send Documents to USCIS."
  3. Enter your mailing information and select the correct USCIS location.
  4. On the University Information, type SUNY at Stony Brook to avail an additional 10% discount over the already discounted price.
  5. Select the carrier you want to use, pay for shipping and print the label. Click on Schedule pick up and request for the carrier to pick up from your residence. eShipGlobal is offering pick up at no additional cost to help you during the pandemic situation. 

Mail your application to the Direct Filing Address for Form I-765 listed for foreign students.

Step 5: Confirm USCIS Received your Application & Track the Status

You should receive an electronic receipt from USCIS within 2-3 weeks and a paper receipt within 3-5 weeks. Once you get your receipt notice, log in to accessVIS to return to your Optional Practical Training application. Complete and submit the I-797 Receipt Notice form, uploading a copy of your receipt notice issued by USCIS.

You can track the status of your OPT application using your receipt number at www.uscis.gov/casestatus.

Contact VIS immediately if you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS, as an updated Form I-20 may be necessary. 

Traveling outside of the U.S. is not recommended while your Request for OPT is pending with USCIS.

Step 6: Report the Approval of your OPT

Once your request for OPT has been adjudicated by USCIS, AND you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), return to your Optional Practical Training application in accessVIS, and submit the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Form.

If you notice any mistakes on your EAD please contact your VIS Advisor immediately so we can assist you in getting the card corrected.

REMEMBER: You may not begin working, volunteering or interning until you have received your EAD card, AND not until the start date printed on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Step 7: Report your OPT Employer to VIS

Students authorized for Post Completion OPT may not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment. Once you have secured an employer, please return to your Optional Practical Training application in accessVIS, and submit the Add or Update OPT Employment form.  It is your responsibility to describe how the practical training opportunity (job) relates to your major area of study.  It is important to clarify the direct relationship of the position to your program of study.  Your advisor may not be able to report your employer in SEVIS if adequate information is not provided. 

Upon review of your request, you will receive email confirming your employment information has been reported in SEVIS.  If your employer changes during your OPT, simply resubmit the Add or Update OPT Employment form with the updated information.