OPT paper application guide

OPT paper application guide

Read through this guide as you prepare to submit your paper OPT application.

Submitting a complete application is your responsibility, and USCIS will make the decision to approve or deny your request. Remember that you need to have your OPT I-20 recommendation from OIS before you submit anything to USCIS. You will request your OPT I-20 by completing the OPT Checklist (Submitting Paper Application) in the F-1 Practical Training menu in Atlas.

If you are applying for OPT online, please use our online OPT application guide.

STEP 1: Assemble the items on the checklist below.

You will need to assemble the following materials for your OPT application:

  • A signed, dated copy of pages 1 and 2 of your new OPT I-20

  •  Form I-765, completed and signed. Type/use black ink only. Be sure to check the USCIS website to ensure you are using the current edition of the I-765. You can find the edition date of the I-765 in the bottom left of the form.

  • Two color, passport-style photographs with your full name and date of birth written on the back in pen

  • Copy of the name & photo page of your passport (including expiration date and any extension pages)

  • Copy of any previous Employment Authorization Documents/OPT cards (front and back)

  • Copy of your most recent I-94 document. This should be one of the following:
    • Print-out of an electronic I-94
      • Download your electronic I-94. (Please note: do not print the “get travel history” page.)  If there are any mistakes or omissions on your I-94, contact OIS before sending your application
    • Paper I-94 card (front and back)
    • Your I-797 Approval Notice (front and back), if you changed your immigration status inside the US and have not departed since that time.

  • Check or money order made payable to “US Department of Homeland Security” or optional Form G-1450 for payment by credit card. The current filing fee is $410. You can find the filing fee at the time of your application on the USCIS website.

  • Optional: Form G-1145  (If you send this form with your application, you will receive a text or e-mail with your case number when your application is received at the Service Center)

  • If Applicable: Documentation of previous periods of CPT. An OIS advisor will provide this to you with your OPT I-20, if applicable in your situation. 

STEP 2:  If you would like to briefly review your application with an advisor after assembling the items on the checklist below, you will need to complete the Request Advisor Review: OPT Application Documents e-form.  You will need to generate the PDF of your I-765 application by clicking “View draft snapshot” to upload in Atlas. Meeting with an advisor is optional. If you wish to meet with an advisor, after your documents are uploaded, call OIS at 812-855-9086 to schedule a 10 minute, OPT Quick Review Appointment.

STEP 3: Mail your OPT packet to the appropriate lockbox.

STEP 4: Wait 2-4 weeks for your OPT Receipt Notice and 2-5 months for your OPT Card. Processing times may vary and can be longer than estimated timeframes.

STEP 5: Follow your case status using the USCIS “Check Your Case Status” tool.

Completing the I-765

It's important that you complete your I-765 correctly. Read the below information to see how to answer certain questions.

Type information or use black ink only.

If a question does not apply to you, type or print “N/A” unless otherwise directed. If your answer to a question which requires a numeric response of zero or none, type or print “None” unless otherwise directed. You can view further instructions on completing the I-765 on the USCIS website.

You can download a sample of a completed I-765 as a reference. This PDF is an example and is for instructional purposes only.

Part 1: Reason for applying

1.a. Put a check mark or X in the box “Initial permission to accept employment.”

Part 2: Information about you

1.a. – 1.c. Enter Family Name, Given Name, and Middle Name (If any)

  • If you do not have a Middle Name, you can leave this field blank. Do not put 'N/A' in this field.
  • Your name on the I-765, your most recent I-20, and your passport should be the same. If not, notify OIS.

2.a. – 4.c. This space is for previous legal names or names you are commonly called.  If you have no other names, enter “N/A”.

5.a.- 5.f. This is the address to which your receipt notice and OPT card will be sent. Remember to put an address that will be valid for at least 5 months. If you move, you may change your mailing address with USCIS.

  • If you move before your receipt notice or OPT card are delivered, the documents will not be forwarded to you if you do not update your address with USCIS
  • If you use a family member or friends address, be sure to write their name in the “in care of name” field

6. If your mailing address is different than your physical address, check “no”.

7.a. – 7.d. This is the current U.S. address where you are living. (Keep your address updated in One.IU)  

8. Enter “none.”

9. If you have a USCIS account number, write it here. If you do not, enter “none.” (Do not create one if you do not already have one.)

10 – 11. Enter current legal gender as  and current legal marital status

12. If you have ever previously applied for OPT, Severe Economic Hardship, J-2 work authorization, or submitted an I-765 for a different application such as a Permanent Residency application, check "Yes."

13.a. If you have a Social Security Number, check “Yes.”

13.b. Enter Social Security Number if you have one.  If you do not, enter “none.” 

14. Check “no” if you have a Social Security Number. Check “yes” if you wish to be issued a Social Security Number

15 – 17.b. Complete if you check “yes” to item #14. Enter “N/A” if you check “no” to item #14.

18.a. – 18.b. Enter your country (or countries) of citizenship.

  • If you have more than 2 countries of citizenship or nationality, Part 6 of the I-765 includes space for more information.

19.a. – 19.c. Enter your birthplace information. (Make sure information is in the appropriate box)

20. Enter date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy format)

21.a. Enter information from your most recent I-94 document.

  • If you have an electronic I-94 document, enter all 11 characters of the Admission (I-94) Record Number.
    • Please look at the sample electronic I-94 on Additional Application Materials, page 11. If your electronic I-94 is missing any of this information or there are other errors, please contact OIS before sending your application.
  • If you have a paper I-94 card, enter all 11 characters of the Departure Number at the top left corner of the card.
  • If you changed status within the US and have only an I-797 Approval Notice confirming your F-1 status, enter all 11 characters of the I-94 number on the bottom right of the I-797.

21.b. Enter your passport number

21.c. This space should only be completed if you do not have a passport. If you have a passport, enter “none.”

21.d. – 21.e. Enter the country that issued your passport and the expiration date of your passport

22 – 23. Enter the date you last entered the US and the name of the city or airport code where you cleared US customs.  (This will not be Bloomington and it is unlikely to be Indianapolis. It may be a special port of entry in another country.)

24 – 25. Enter the immigration status you held when you last entered the US and the immigration status you currently hold. If this is not “F-1,” please contact OIS to make an appointment with an International Student Advisor.

26. Enter your SEVIS Number. This can be found on your I-20.

27. Enter a lower case letter c in the 1st set of parentheses, the number 3 in the 2nd set, and the upper case letter B in the 3rd set. When finished, item #27 should look like this: (c) (3) (B)

28 -31.b. Enter “N/A” or “none” in these sections.

Part 3: Applicant's statement, contact information, declaration, certification, and signature

1.a. Check if you have completed the I-765 on your own.  

1.b. – 2. Only check if you have used an interpreter or if someone prepared your application for you.

3. Enter your U.S. telephone number.

 4 5. These are optional

6. Leave blank.

7.a. – 7.b. Sign your name and enter the date (mm/dd/yyyy) you complete the form. Please note a pen to paper signature is required. Applications submitted with an electronic signature will not be accepted.

Part 4: Interpreter's contact information, certification, and signature

1.a. – 7.b. Enter “N/A” in these sections.

Part 5: Contact information, declaration, and signature of person preparing this application

1.a. – 8.b. Enter “N/A” in these sections.

Part 6: Additional information

1.a.– 2 Enter Family Name, Given Name, Middle Name (if any) and A-Number (if any)

If you have been authorized for CPT, complete Part 6 as follows:
Page Number. 3            Part Number. 2             Item Number. 27
3.d. Please see attached for evidence of previously authorized CPT

If you have had a previous SEVIS number, complete Part 6 as follows:
Page Number. 3            Part Number. 2             Item Number. 26
4.d. Previous SEVIS number here

If you have not had CPT or a previous SEVIS number, complete Part 6 using “N/A.”

Preparing and mailing your application

Additional application materials


The address on your check must be your current address.  If the address printed on the check is no longer correct, please draw a line through old information and write correct information to the side.

Please do not submit your application before contacting OIS if:­

  • Your personal information / date of entry / class of information (immigration status) is incorrect in any way, OR
  • You are missing the “D/S” notation 

Your I-94 may need to be corrected by CBP, and this correction should take place before submitting the OPT application.


(Please note:  Do not print the page that appears when you click “Get Travel History”)

You can get passport-style photos taken at FedEx, the U.S. Post Office, some private shipping companies, and some banks.

  • You will need to upload a recent, color photograph of yourself.
  • The photos must be in color with a full face, frontal view, on a white to off-white background.
  • Your head must be bare unless you are wearing headwear as required by a religious denomination of which you are a member.
  • If you need help understanding the requirements, you can use the Department of State’s photo composition tool.


Write your full name and date of birth on the back of both pictures in pen (example above).  Be careful to make sure the ink is dry before proceeding.

Assembling and mailing your application

Before you mail your application to the USCIS, the documentation will need to be arranged in a specific order.

  • Sign and date page one of your new OPT I-20 where indicated
  • Copy page 1 and 2 of the OPT I-20 after you have signed and dated it
    • Keep the original and the copy will go in your application packet.

Assemble the OPT application in the following order:

  1. G-1145 (optional first page)
  2. Pages one - seven of the I-765 (include all seven pages)
  3. Copy of page two of your new I-20 (directly behind/after I-765)
  4. Copy of page one of your new I-20 (directly behind/after page two of I-20)
  5. Copy of your passport identity page (directly behind/after page one of I-20)
  6. Copy of your most recent I-94 document (directly behind/after passport page)
    • If you have a paper I-94 card (white card, stapled in passport), insert a copy of front & back of card
    • If you have an electronic I-94 document, print out that page
    • If you changed your visa status inside the US and have not departed since that time, insert a copy of both front & back of the I-797 Approval Notice
  7. If you have participated in CPT at this current degree level, you also need to include:
    • Copy of the SEVIS screenshot showing your previous CPT (provided to you by the OIS with your OPT I-20)
  8. Put your 2 passport-style photos (with your full name and date of birth written on the back of each picture in pen) in a small plastic bag and then staple this bag to the top right corner of the I-765 only
  9. Staple your check/money order (made payable to “US Department of Homeland Security”) or Form G-1450 for payment by credit card to the top center of your I-765 only
  10. Staple the entire packet together in the top left corner
  11. Mail your application to USCIS. The USCIS mailing addresses are subject to change. You should check the USCIS website at the time of your application to ensure you have the most up-to-date mailing instructions.
    • ­­­­If you choose to mail your application with the USPS, we advise purchasing a tracking number for your package.