Ask an Advisor: Graduating and Applying for OPT


Written by: Lara Jennings, International Student and Scholar Advisor

Question: I’m graduating in May and would like to apply for OPT. What do I need to do?

Answer: The earliest that you can apply for OPT is February 22, 2021, and the latest is July 19, 2021. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the entire OPT process is 100% Virtual. Your first step will be to attend a Virtual OPT workshop where you will get an overview of OPT and information about the application process. Please check the OISS Events Calendar for information about the days and times of the OPT workshops offered during Spring semester. After the workshop, your next step is to email your Advisor for the list of next steps.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It takes an average of 90 days to receive the OPT card after you apply.
  • If you have a job offer, you should definitely apply soon after February 22nd.
  • If you do not have a job offer, no worries; you can still apply for OPT even while you are still looking for a job.
  • If you are traveling outside the U.S. after graduation, you will need to have the OPT card in hand as well as a job offer and a valid F-1 entry visa in order to reenter the U.S.; therefore, applying early is important. *Please note it is best to talk to your OISS Advisor prior to any travel plans due to complications with the pandemic

Each student’s situation is a bit different, which is where things can get complicated. If you have questions, schedule an appointment with your OISS advisor on Zoom to go over your specific situation and figure out what the best time to apply would be for you.