Form I-765 Tips for Mailing OPT and STEM OPT Applications

Instructions for Filing the I-765 by Mail

Read the USCIS instructions carefully as you complete the Form I-765 for your Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT applications, as it is your responsibility to ensure that:

  • your I-765 application is completed correctly,
  • supporting documents and required evidence are submitted with the application, and
  • the application packet is submitted within the appropriate filing period.

Some application requirements are only listed in USCIS’ “Instructions for Application for Employment Authorization” document. Always retrieve Form I-765 directly from the USCIS website. USCIS also has recommendations for filing here.

It is your responsibility as the applicant to follow the official instructions found on the USCIS website; pay particular attention to information on pages 3-4 for “Foreign Student Categories,” and the form instructions beginning on page 15 titled “How to Fill Out Form I-765.” 

Our recommendations are provided to assist you in completing Form I-765, but they are not legal advice and do not guarantee approval of your OPT by USCIS. We have only highlighted below the most frequently asked questions.

If you have questions while completing the I-765, please contact an ISSA advisor during ISSA walk-in hours.

General Guidelines

Type your responses and print the form. If a question does not apply to you, leave it blank while you complete the form, then write N/A (not applicable) or NONE after printing.

Print and include all seven (7) pages of Form I-765, even if they are blank.

Part 1

Check the “Initial Permission” box.

Part 2

Your U.S. Mailing Address – This is the address where USCIS will mail documents related to your application, including the receipt notice and EAD. While it is best if the address provided is valid for five months after you have submitted your application, you can update your address with USCIS here

Item 6: Check YES if you are currently in the same address you just gave as the place to send your documents, in item 5. If you check yes, you do NOT have to complete Item 7. If you check NO, please complete item 7.

Your U.S. Physical Address – This is the address where you live but USCIS will NOT mail documents to it.

Item 27: Identify which category of work authorization you are applying:

  • Pre-Completion OPT: (c)(3)(A)
  • Post-Completion OPT: (c)(3)(B)
  • STEM OPT Extension: (c)(3)(C)

Item 28: STEM OPT Only. Applicants for OPT can leave this blank. If your degree (e.g. B.A. in Mechanical Engineering, M.S. in Applied Computational Mathematics and Statistics) doesn't fit in 28.a., type “See Part 6” and include the name of your STEM degree in one of the boxes there.

Items 29 – 31: Skip these, as they are for other immigration categories.

Part 3

Sign Item 7.a. in BLACK ink. This should be an original signature, not typed or stamped.

Part 4

Leave this entire section blank if an interpreter did not help you complete this form. You can draw a diagonal line across the section after printing and write N/A next to the line.

Part 5

Leave this entire section blank if someone did not prepare this form for you. You can draw a diagonal line across the section after printing and write N/A next to the line.

Part 6

Complete Part 6 only if:

  • You have been previously approved for CPT,
  • You have been previously approved for OPT, or
  • You have entered the U.S. in F-1 status with a different SEVIS ID than your current SEVIS ID.

If you need to complete this section because one or more of these apply to you, complete item 1. When finished, sign and date in the blank space in the bottom right corner of the page.

For each of the items listed above, complete one box in Part 6; for example, list all CPT in Item 3, then list all OPT in Item 4.

  • When listing CPT Authorizations, include: the SEVIS ID number, CPT Authorizations (as a title to the section), Employer Name; Start date – End date; Part-time (PT) or Full-time (FT); Degree level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD). You can find your CPT details on the I-20 that was approved for each period of CPT.
  • When listing OPT Authorizations, include: the SEVIS ID number, OPT Authorizations (as a title to the section), Start date – End date; Part-time (PT) or Full-time (FT); Degree level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD), and the receipt number (starts with PSC, EAC, WAC). You can find your OPT details on the I-20 that was approved for each period of OPT.
  • When listing previous SEVIS ID’s, include: previous SEVIS ID; program start date – program end date; Degree level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD). The USCIS instructions indicate you will need to include “evidence of any previously authorized curricular practical training (CPT) or OPT and academic level at which each was authorized.” In addition to completing Part 6, include a copy of the I-20 with authorization.

Additional tips for completing the PAPER based Form I-765 for the STEM OPT Extension

In addition to the general guidelines above, the instructions below are OPT STEM Extension specific.

  • Part 1: Mark the box "Initial" as you are applying for a new authorization category.
  • Part 2, Item 5: If you might move while this application is pending with the USCIS, consider using your employer's address as the mailing address.
  • Item 27 should be answered "(c)(3)(C)."
  • Item 28a: Write the name of your degree as listed on the I-20
  • Item 28b & c: Your employer will need to provide you with the E-Verify information. Please be sure that the number provided is the employer's E-Verify Company ID, and NOT the employer's Taxpayer ID (or EIN).
  • Do not answer Items 29 - 31. They do not apply to your application.
  • Be sure to sign and date the form in black ink.
  • Be sure to submit all 7 pages, even if you have written NONE or N/A on pages 5-6. USCIS has rejected applications that were missing pages.
  • Be sure to include information about all previous OPT and CPT authorizations in Part 6.