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Post Completion Optional Practical Training

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) grants eligible F-1 students the opportunity to work for 12 months (anywhere in the U.S.) in a field that is related to their degree program and commensurate with each degree level (bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D.).

Students remain in F-1 status at University of Houston-Clear Lake, even though they may be working elsewhere in the U.S. Students with only their thesis option left should consult with an international student advisor to determine if post completion OPT is the best option.

What are the steps to apply?

  1. View the Post-Completion OPT video series in the ISD Portal and acknowledge that you have reviewed the information.
  2. Submit OPT Application in the ISD Portal.
  3. Pay $150 UHCL OPT fee via E-Commerce.
  4. Receive your Post-Completion OPT I-20 from your international student adviser in about 3-5 business days from submission. Review your I-20, sign it with pen, and upload to your online USCIS I-765 application.
  5. Submit and pay for your online USCIS I-765 application after obtaining your I-20 from OIAP.

How do I know if I am eligible?

Eligibility depends on whether you have maintained your F-1 status throughout your studies in the U.S. You also must have applied for graduation with UHCL. However, if you have engaged in 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you are not eligible for OPT.

When should I apply for OPT?

As an F-1 student, you should apply for OPT at least 90 days before the desired start date of employment. You can apply as early as 90 days before the official closing of the semester in which you intend to graduate. This period should allow enough time for OIAP and USCIS to review your application. In order to apply for OPT, students are required to view our Post-Completion OPT video series on the ISD Portal.

Future alumni who plan to apply for post-completion OPT are required to pay a $150 to OIAP for the continued maintenance of their SEVIS record after graduation. Payment is due at the time you submit your OPT Application in the ISD Portal.  A link to E-Commerce can be found in the OPT Application in the ISD Portal.

What should I do once I have my new I-20 recommending OPT?

Once your international student advisor has recommended OPT on the second page of your I-20, you should submit your I-20 to USCIS no later than 30 days after your advisor recommended Post-Completion OPT.

USCIS Processing Time

Please allow a minimum of 90 days to receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD.) This countdown starts from the date Immigration receives the OPT application. Once the USCIS receives the application, they will issue a receipt with a tracking number. You can use this number to track the status of your application.

You are not permitted to begin work until you have received this card and the start date has begun. Failure to abide by these regulations is considered a violation of status. If do not receive your card in a timely manner, you should contact an International Student Advisor for assistance.

SEVP Portal

After your Post-Completion OPT is approved and after the start date has passed, you will receive a link to the SEVP Portal from SEVP. E-mails from SEVP are sent to the "Other" address you have listed in E-Services. 

In the SEVP Portal, you can update your addresses, phone number, and employer information yourself. 

If you do not receive the link create your SEVP Portal account, lock yourself out or have other difficulties accessing the SEVP Portal, please submit an SEVP Portal Help request on the ISD Portal so your international student advisor can review.

Travel

If you decide to travel after you have received your card, you must carry: a valid passport, visa, I-20 (endorsed by your ISA within the last 6 months), and EAD card. An employment verification letter from your employer is not required but recommended. Please note that these items do not guarantee re-entry.

Employment Requirements

You can utilize up to 90 days of unemployment throughout the authorized duration of your post-completion OPT. If you accumulate more than 90 days of unemployment, you will not be in compliance with the terms of your F-1 status. Contact your international student advisor to discuss possible options when approaching 90 days of unemployment.

Possibility of Extension

In some instances, students are able to extend their post-completion OPT. To qualify for a possible OPT Extension, you must have received a degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) field from an accredited U.S. university, and your employer must participate in E-Verify. Please review our STEM OPT webpage.

Reporting Requirements

You MUST report any changes related to the following within 10 days of the change. Most of these changes can be reported either in the SEVP Portal or the ISD Portal.

  • Employment—including employment dates, addresses, and names of employers.
  • Name change and/or visa status approval—such as H1B, permanent residency, etc.
  • Departure date, especially if you do not plan to return to the U.S.
  • Changes to a personal address must be reported within 10 days

Contact

  • International Student Services

    Phone: 281-283-2740
    Fax: 281-226-7038
    Email: intladvising@uhcl.edu

    Bayou Building B2123
    2700 Bay Area Blvd, Box 225
    Houston, TX 77058-1002