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OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENT AFFAIRS
TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY
3100 Cleburne Street
Houston, Texas 77004
Telephone: 713-313-7896, Fax 713-313-4380

SEVIS
F-1 OPTIONAL PRACTICAL Guidelines
Click here to download OPT Advisor Form

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to accept paid, off-campus employment that is directly related to their field of studies and commensurate with the level of education being sought. OPT can be used both pre- and post-completion of degree requirements according to the following guidelines:

Pre-completion

1. A student who still has coursework remaining to complete his or her educational objective or degree program may apply for Pre Completion OPT while school is in session - limited to 20 hours of work per week.
2. Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12 month limit at 50%. Thus, 2 months of part-time OPT would count as 1 month deduction from the available 12 months.
3. During the annual vacation period – full or part time
4. Full-time employment can be requested for pre-completion OPT for students who have completed all requirements for their degree except for thesis or dissertation. Students must be registered each semester for thesis or dissertation status.

Post-completion
1. After completion of all degree requirements – full time
2. Standard OPT entitles you up to 12 months of OPT per educational level.
3. OPT authorization begins on the employment start date shown on your EAD card.
4. If you begin a new academic program at a higher level, you are eligible for another 12 months of OPT.
5. Prior use of full-time Curricular Practical Training at the same educational level for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training.

In order to be eligible for OPT a student must meet the following criteria:
1. A full time student at Texas Southern University for at least one academic year before you can engage in OPT.
2. Currently in F-1 status.
3. Have not have been authorized for more than 12 months of full time Curricular Practical Training.
4. Have not used more than 12 months of pre-completion OPT at your current degree level.

You do not need to have a job offer to apply, although once you are approved for OPT time is deducted from your 12 months regardless of whether or not you actually work.

Application Timeline
1.
You may apply for OPT I-20 recommendation from The Office of International Student Affairs  up to 120 days prior to your date of graduation
2. You may apply to USCIS for OPT up to 90 days before date of completion and up to 60 days after your completion date
You must mail off OPT Package within 30 days of your printed OPT I-20
3. You must specify a start date for post-completion OPT up to 60 days after you complete your degree and an end date of  no later than 12 months after start date USCIS may take 60-90 days to process an application for OPT, so please plan accordingly.

Application Procedure Check List

  • Complete the package as indicated below:
  • Have your department complete the Department portion of OPT package
  • Fill out by typing the Form I-765 (http://www.immigration.gov)
  • A transcript (unofficial) showing continuous full time enrollment.
  • A photocopy of your I-94 (front and back)
  • Photocopies of your passport page (must be valid for the coming 6 months).
  • Photocopies of the front and back of all previous I-20s
  • A check or money order for $380.00 (payable to Department of Homeland Security)
  • Two immigration type photos  (Not older than 1 year. The photographs must meet very specific requirements) (see USCIS form M-378 for color photo specifications).
  • Submit a request for a SEVIS OPT I-20 to the ISA Office to be included
  • Before mailing:
  • Sign the OPT I-20 before sending it off
  • Put your name and birth date on the back of Immigration Pictures (pictures should not be more than 1 year old
  • Put both Immigration Pictures in an envelope

Your OPT application should be mailed to:
(Certified mail with a return receipt)                             (Express Mail and Courier Deliveries)
USCIS Texas Service Center                                             Attn: AOS
P.O. Box 660867                                                              2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Dallas, TX 75266                                                              Suite 400
                                                                                         Lewisville, TX 75067

If your OPT application is approved, you will receive an EAD card from the USCIS granting you permission to work off-campus. You must immediately send a copy of the EAD card to The Office of International Student Affairs. Do not begin employment until you receive your EAD and until the start date indicated on the card. While engaged in OPT, you are expected to engage in employment in your field of study. You may switch employers multiple times while on OPT. You must send a copy of your EAD card and report all changes of address and employment information to the ISA office.  You must end your employment by the expiration date on the EAD card.  Once this date has past you have a 60 day grace period to remain in the U.S. to prepare for your departure, transfer to another university or begin a new program of study.  Your EAD becomes invalid as of the date you complete the transfer or begin a new program.

Notification Requirements
While you are on OPT, you are still considered an F-1 student under Texas Southern University’s sponsorship.  You must notify ISO immediately of the following:

  • (A) Change in address
  • (B) Intention to terminate your OPT for any reason

Travel Information
You must obtain a travel signature from The Office of International Student Affairs on your I-20 while on OPT. If you will be traveling abroad, you must carry your I-20, passport, valid U.S. visa, I-94 card, EAD card, and a letter from your employer. All travel is RISKY!

If your U.S. visa has expired, there is some risk involved in applying for a renewal.