Form I-765

What is Form I-765?

F-1 students who are in the United States may file the Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request certain employment authorizations and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). USCIS is the government agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that oversees lawful immigration to the United States. They will review your I-765 application and issue your OPT EAD card. 
  • If you are applying for Pre- or Post-Completion OPT: Your I-765 application must be approved by USCIS and you must have your EAD card before you begin working. Additionally, you cannot begin working until the start date listed on your EAD card. 
  • If you are applying for 24-Month STEM Extension of OPT: You can continue working up to 180 days after your current Post-Completion OPT EAD expires if you have an I-765 application pending with USCIS

When should USCIS receive your I-765 application?

Type of OPT

Timeline for submitting I-765

Pre-Completion OPT

  • You can submit up to 90 days before completing a full academic year in your program  

  • You can submit up to 90 days before the date you plan to begin working 

  • You MUST submit within 30 days of ISS issuing your recommendation OPT I-20 

Post-Completion OPT

  • You can submit up to 90 days before the program end date on your I-20 

  • You MUST submit before 60 days beyond your program end date (your grace period) passes 

  • You MUST submit within 30 days of ISS issuing your recommendation OPT I-20 

24-Month STEM Extension  

  • You can submit up to 90 days before the expiration of your current EAD card 

  • You MUST submit before the expiration of your current OPT EAD card 

  • You MUST submit within 60 days of ISS issuing your recommendation OPT I-20 

The following are resources compiled from the USCIS website and USCIS Form I-765 Instructions dated 10/02/2020. International Student Services Advisors and Staff are NOT Immigration Attorneys or USCIS Adjudicators and any advice included in this section are intended for informational purposes only.

Always use the most recent version of the I-765 available on the USCIS website.  The I-765 instructions can also be found here.

Check out our pre-recorded workshops in which we go through the I-765 instructions in detail. 

Filing Tips:
  • When filling out the I-765, either type or print legibly in black ink.
  • If a question does not apply to you:
    • Alphabetical answer: "N/A"
    • Numberical answer: "None"
  • If you make a mistake, start over with a new form.
    • DO NOT use highlighters, correction fluid, or tape.
  • Sign the I-765 on page 5 by hand in black ink! DO NOT TYPE OR STAMP IT, AND NO DIGITAL SIGNATURES!
  • Keep copies of everything you send to USCIS!
  • Submit all pages of Form I-765. Even is some sections are blank.
  • If applicable, Apply for Your Social Security Number While Applying for Your Work Permit.
  • Submit COPIES unless they request original documents. They will not return original documents!
  • USCIS prefers single-sided copies.
  • Do not send any of your dependents' documents to USCIS.
  • Do not use staples! Use paper clips or binder clips instead if you need to.
  • Always download the most recent form version directly from the USCIS website
  • If you plan to use sticky notes to help organize your packet, place them at the bottom of documents, not the sides.
More filing tips can be found on the USCIS website.

Frequently Asked Questions about form I-765:
  • What should I put as my reason for applying in Part 1?
    • Pre- or Post-Completion OPT: Mark box 1.a. "Initial permission to accept employment"
    • 24-Month STEM OPT Extension: Mark box 1.c. "Renewal of my permission to accept employment"
  • How should I fill out my "Full Legal Name" in Part 2? 
    • Fill out your name as shown on your birth certificate 
    • If your name is different on other legal documents, provide them in the "Other Names Used" section. Otherwise, use N/A. 
  • Which address should I fill out in Part 2?
    • This is the address your EAD card will be sent to. Put whichever address you would like the EAD sent to, keeping in mind the USCIS processing time and where you may be at the time of issuance. The address should be one that is valid at least 3 months into the future. 
    • If you want the EAD to be sent to someone other than yourself (for instance, a friend you will be staying with), put their name in the "In Care of Name" section. 
  • How do I apply for a Social Security Number on the I-765? 
    •  If you want the SSA to assign you a Social Security number and issue you a Social Security card, or issue you a new or replacement Social Security card, then answer “Yes” to both Item Number 14 and Item Number 15.  
    • You must also provide your father’s and mother’s family and given names at birth in Item Numbers 16.a. - 17.b.  
      • Social Security Administration will use Item Numbers 16.a. - 17.b. in issuing you a Social Security card. 
  • What eligibility category should I choose for question 27 in Part 2? 
    • Pre-Completion OPT: (c) (3) (A)  
    • Post-Completion OPT: (c) (3) (B)  
    • 24-Month Extension of OPT: (c) (3) (C) – You will have to complete questions #28a, 28b, and 28c on Form I-765 as well. 
      • USCIS will deny your I-765 application if your employer’s E-Verify information is incorrect.  
  • What is an Alien Registration number? Do I have one? 
    • An Alien Registration Number is a unique identification number given by USCIS to certain immigrants. Most F-1 students applying for their first OPT authorization do not have an alien registration number. Possible exceptions are: 
      • You have been in another status besides F-1 while in the U.S. 
      • You have submitted another application to USCIS in the past. 
    • If you are on STEM, use the “USCIS #” (XXXXXXXXX) from your Post-Completion EAD card; NO DASHES. Provide copies of the EAD with your application. 
    • If you can’t remember or don’t have a number, leave blank 
  • Should I fill out Part 4 and 5 if I completed the application on my own? 
    • If anyone helped you fill out this application, then you need to fill out Part 4 and Part 5 as needed. “Anyone” can include: 
      • Interpreter/Translator
      • Immigration Attorney or Accredited Representative
    • If you did not receive assistance, you do not need to fill out these sections. However, you must still include these pages in your application. 
  • What sort of "additional" information can I include in Part 6? 
    • Examples of additional info include but are not limited to:
      • Any additional names that don’t fit on page 1 
      • Additional A-numbers (For example, USCIS# on other EAD cards) 
      • If you are a citizen or national of more than two countries 
      • Any previous SEVIS IDs 
      • Any previous CPT/OPT Authorization 
        • Include degree level, SEVIS ID, start and end dates, school.institution, and part-time or full-time
Additional Information for students applying for STEM OPT Extension:
  • On question 28c, should I put my E-Verify number or my Employer's E-Verify number?  
    • Make sure you indicate the EMPLOYER's E-Verify number.
    • Requests with invalid employer E-Verify information will be denied.  
  • Do I need to send the Form I-983 with my application to USCIS?  
    • It is recommended to send a copy of the Form I-983 along with your USCIS STEM application, even though it is not required by USCIS at this time. 
  • Should I include a copy of my EAD card in my application?
    • Yes, you should include a front and back copy of your Post-Completion EAD card.  
Your application to USCIS should include the following documents in the following order as recommended by USCISKeep copies of everything you send to USCIS!

Payment. Check, money order, or Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, personal check, cashier’s check, or money order made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” 
  • Be sure to use the Fee Calculator to determine the amount due.  
  • If there is an issue with the check or money, or if the fee amount is too low or too high, your I-765 application will be REJECTED.  
Form G-1145, Request for e-Notification (if applicable):
  • This form is used to request electronic notification from USCIS for application receipt. 
Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney of Accredited Representative (if applicable):
  • Only necessary if an attorney or representative helped you fill out the I-765 or you want them to communicate with USCIS on your behalf. 
Completed Form I-765. Always use the most recent version of the I-765 available on the USCIS website. Send this along with the following supporting documentation:
  • Copy of I-20 issued by ISS with OPT or STEM OPT recommendation:
    • Pre- and Post-completion OPT: Must be received by USCIS no later than 30 days after an ISS advisor adds the OPT recommendation to SEVIS. 
    • STEM OPT: Must be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after an ISS advisor adds the OPT recommendation to SEVIS. 
  • Copy of the following passport pages
    • Biographical information page.
    • Most recent visa.
    • If your passport already expired or is about to expire, you should still make sure to include a copy in your I-765 application and file the application to USCIS in a timely manner.  
      • You should actively seek to get your passport renewed as soon as possible.  
      • Make sure you include a copy of the receipt, or any document to show you are in the process of getting your passport renewed in the I-765 application.  
  • Two identical passport-style photographs taken within the last 6 months; pictures must meet these defined standards. We recommend that you:  
    • Write down your name and date of birth (DOB) on the back of the photographs.  
    • Seal them in a plastic bag or envelope to prevent them from getting lost or damaged. Paperclip (DO NOT STAPLE) the bag to the I-765 application. 
  • Copy of I-94 card or a printout of your electronic I-94.
  • Copies of all previous I-20s (not required, but recommended) 
    • If you believe you are missing a copy of one of your previously issued I-20s from TAMU, you may request that ISS check if we have a copy for you by submitting a Document Replacement Request.
    • If you need copies of I-20s issued by other universities you have attended, you will need to contact their international offices.   
  • For Pre-Completion OPT
    • Copy of transcript or other evidence of having been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year at your current degree level.
  • For 24-month STEM OPT extension  
    • Evidence that the degree that is the basis for your STEM OPT is currently listed on the STEM Designated Degree Program List.
      • Usually demonstrated by your STEM OPT I-20 and STEM degree diploma.
      • If you are seeking a STEM OPT Extension based on a previously earned STEM degree, evidence that the institution at which you received the degree is currently accredited by the U.S. Department of Education and certified by SEVP.
    • Copy of the front and back of your Post-Completion OPT EAD card.
    • Copy of Form I-983. It is recommended, but not required to send a copy with your application to USCIS at this time 
    • Copy of your Form I-20 with STEM Extension OPT recommendation issued by ISS
    • Copy of your diploma showing your STEM degree
A Note about Electronic Filing Form I-765: It is no longer possible to electronically file Form I-765.  

Remember- once you mail the I-765 Application request to USCIS, it can NO LONGER be modified. 

**January 8, 2021, USCIS adjusted the filing location for "certain foreign students filing Form I-765."**

Choosing a Mailing Service: 
It is recommended that the phrase “I-765” be written on the envelope containing the OPT application. Remember to include a return address on the envelope as well. An example of what the envelope should look like is included below.

Private Courier Services (non-U.S. Postal Service deliveries): U.S. Postal Service:
  • U.S. Postal Express Mail provides a tracking service to confirm when the application was delivered. 
  • U.S. Priority Mail provides a tracking service to confirm when the application was delivered. 
  • First Class Mail Packages does not provide a tracking service (for this reason we do not recommend this option).
  • Register for an account with your school information. 
  •  Click OPT Application icon and confirm appropriate “Senders” and “Receivers” addresses.
  • Select the preferred method of delivery and payment.
  • Schedule a pickup to your home or drop a package off at a nearby carrier location. Once your package has been picked up, you can track it through your eShipGlobal account and mobile app
I-765 Applications should be mailed to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox. The appropriate USCIS Lockbox is determined by the address written on Form I-765. You should visit this USCIS webpage to determine which USCIS Service Center will process your application.  

Reporting an Address Change after Submitting I-765 Application to USCIS:
The address on your I-765 should be valid for at least 3 months into the future. Please note that any change in address can dramatically delay the receipt of your EAD card.  
  • Notify USCIS the change of address by calling call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800- 375-5283
  • Notify USCIS the change of address online.
    • You cannot update your address online if you do not have a receipt number.
  • Remember to update your “Student Local Physical” address and “Student Local/Current” phone information through the "My Record" tab of the Howdy Portal within 10 days of any change of address. You can find more details about this requirement here.

USCIS formally announced on April 12, 2021 that F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online if they are filing under one of these categories: 

  • (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT; 
  • (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and 
  • (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students. 

If an applicant submits Form I-765 online to request employment authorization on or after April 15, but is eligible for a different employment authorization category, USCIS will deny the application and retain the fee.  

Online filing allows applicants to:  

  • Submit forms electronically; 
  • Pay the fees;  
  • Track the status of their case anytime from anywhere;  
  • Receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail;  
  • Communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox; 
  • ​Respond to Requests for Evidence (RFEs). 

Students who are interested in filing I-765 online can find more information at AND  

USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of these forms by mail. 

ISS does not have a recommendation for the method of applying for OPT with USCIS. It is ultimately up to the student to decide whether they will file by mail or online. The online version is a new method and may include additional requirements, such as biometric appointments: 


You will still be in legal F-1 status while your I-765 application is pending with USCIS.

Check if the I-765 Application is delivered or not:
Use the U.S. Postal Service tracking system to check whether the OPT application was delivered. USCIS has more information about tracking the delivery of your EAD card.

Check the status of your I-765 Application:
If your I-765 Application has been pending less than 90 days, you can check the status of your application on the USCIS Case Status Online webpage after you receive the receipt notice.  

If your I-765 Application has been pending more than 90 days: Special Note for 24-month STEM OPT Extension applicants:
If you sent your application to USCIS within the required application window, then you may continue working for your STEM OPT employer while your STEM OPT Extension application is pending with USCIS for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of your prior Post-Completion OPT EAD card.   
  • If your STEM OPT application is still pending for more than 180 days beyond the expiration of your Post-Completion OPT, you MUST stop working. 
Employment after day 180 is not authorized under 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv) if USCIS has not adjudicated the STEM OPT application by day 180. 

Receiving an I-797 Notice of Action from USCIS:

It could be a Receipt Notice:
 These are usually sent within 4 to 6 weeks from when USCIS receives the I-765 application and is sent to the address listed on Form I-765. You can use the Receipt Number to check the status of your application.

It could be a Request for Evidence (RFE): If USCIS wants more information in order to make a decision, they can send a request for evidence (RFE). Often they ask the student to provide documentation of having maintained a full course of study and questions about the use of CPT and any prior OPT. Contact ISS as soon as possible so we can help you respond to the RFE.

It could be a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID): Do not panic! Your application has not been denied yet. Contact ISS as soon as possible so we can help you respond to the NOID. 

It could be an Approval Notice:
 The EAD card is usually attached to the approval notice. Congratulations and be sure to send ISS a copy of the front and back of the card as soon as possible!

It could be a Rejection Notice or Denial Notice: Contact ISS Immediately. We will try to help as much as we can, but you may also need to consult an immigration attorney
General ways to contact USCIS: Please note that all options will require you to have your receipt number. If your lawyer is calling on your behalf, they will need to have a valid G-28 on file.   Lost or Returned EAD card: DO NOT START WORKING UNTIL YOU HAVE THE EAD CARD.

You need to double check the mailing address on the Form I-765 and open an inquiry with the USCIS Contact Center using the USCIS Self Service Online Tool. When USCIS receives the returned card from USPS, they will re-issue the card to the updated address.
  • You should allow 21 days for the card to be returned to USCIS, and an additional 30 days for reissuance before re-inquiring with USCIS.  
  • If you have still not received your EAD card 30 additional days after the second inquiry, you will need to contact USCIS for proof that the card has been returned to USCIS and then can file with the USCIS Ombudsman to escalate reissuance.  
    • This is a last resort and you must have exploited all other options beforehand. 
If all else fails, apply for a replacement EAD card:
  • You will need to send a new Form I-765 and another filing fee to USCIS.
  • We recommend you also send copies of your previous I-797 approval notice and I-20 with previous OPT recommendation with the application 
  • You should receive the receipt notice for the replacement within 90 days
OPT EAD card arrives, but with errors:  Talk to your employer to see if you can work while getting the EAD corrected.

Possible mistakes can include:
  • Name
  • Birthday
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Start and/or end date
    • Pre-Completion OPT:
      • The end date CANNOT go past the program end date on your I-20.
    • Post-Completion OPT:
      • Your EAD CANNOT be valid for more than 12 months.
      • The end date CANNOT be more than 14 months past the program end date on your I-20.
    • STEM OPT Extension:
      • The start date MUST be directly after the end date on your Post-Completion OPT EAD. There CANNOT be a gap.
      • Your EAD CANNOT be valid for more than 24 months. 
If USCIS made the error, you must resolve the issue as it may affect any future USCIS applications:
  • Complete the online Typographical Error Form.
  • You will receive an email after you complete the from. Mail the EAD card back to USCIS using the directions in the email. 
If YOU made the error, you must apply for a replacement EAD card:
  • You will need to send a new Form I-765 and another filing fee to USCIS.
    • Include a letter of explanation detailed what error(s) you made.
    • Return the original incorrect EAD card.
  • Keep a copy of the incorrect EAD card for your records.
  • A new I-20/OPT recommendation is NOT required, as the OPT has already been approved.
Didn't get approved? Contact ISS immediately!

If you are still within your application window it is possible to reapply. However, if your application window has passed then unfortunately you will not be able to do OPT.  
  • Rejected: These applications are returned by the USCIS Lockbox prior to processing, are not considered properly filed, and do not establish or retain a filing date.
    • Common reasons: Form not filled out completely, signature is missing or incorrect, and fee is incorrect.   
    • If your I-765 Application is rejected, USCIS will send you a rejection notice. 
  • Denied: These applications have undergone review by a USCIS adjudicator and the adjudicator has found the applicant ineligible for benefits.  
    • If USCIS denies the OPT application, it should indicate the reason for denial in a written notice sent to the student. 
    • There is no formal appeal for OPT denial, but you can discuss with an immigration attorney whether a motion to reopen or reconsider the decision may be warranted in your case.  
      • Challenging a denial of an OPT application cannot be filed by ISS.
      • If the student wishes to file a motion, it must be filed within 30 days from the date of the decision (not the date he or she received the denial notice).   

Check to make sure all the information on the EAD card is correct. For a list of possible EAD card mistakes, please refer to the previous section, I-765 Application Troubleshooting.

Remember to update your “Student Local Physical” address and “Student Local/Current” phone information through the "My Record" tab of the Howdy Portal within 10 days of any change of address. You can find more details about this requirement here.

Complete all OPT Reporting Requirements: 

Important USCIS Update

February 26, 2021: USCIS announced greater flexibility related to delayed I-765 receipts.  USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT

  • 14 month OPT Period Flexibilities: the 12 month OPT is required to be completed within 14 months from the end of their program.  Because of the delay will allow the 14 month period to start from the date of approval of the OPT.  This means the student should be eligible for 12 months of OPT. 
  • If a student is eligible for 12 months of OPT, but did not receive the 12 months, then the student should follow the instructions in the link above.
  • The guidance provides flexibility if an OPT was rejected and how to refile.

International Student Services is aware that many current and former students have submitted applications to USCIS (many for OPT using the Form I-765) and have not yet received a receipt notice or receipt number for their pending case(s) or had their checks cashed by USCIS. ISS is investigating answers and possible solutions. 

As you may be aware, USCIS will not accept OPT applications more than 90 days prior to the Form I-20 program end date. If USCIS receives an OPT application more than 90 days prior to the Form I-20 program end date, the OPT application will be rejected. In addition, USCIS must receive the OPT application within 30 days from the date the OPT was recommended in SEVIS and within the 60 days following the Form I-20 program end date, whichever is earlier. If USCIS receives an OPT application after the 30-day time period has ended or after the 60-day grace period has expired, the OPT application will be denied, and student’s may not have sufficient time to re-apply. 

ISS strongly encourages individuals who submit applications to USCIS to choose an option that includes package tracking and/or confirmation of delivery. Once USCIS issues a receipt notice they are required to process the receipt with the date of delivery to USCIS (not the day they opened the application), i.e. the receipted date on the notice should indicate the day the application arrived at the lockbox facility. Once an applicant receives the receipt notice, ISS encourages all individuals to verify that the date on the receipt notices matches the tracking information provided to you by your mail carrier. This information can be helpful in overcoming many potential issues, such as erroneous rejections or denials.

As such, ISS is aware of the following options available to applicants who may be experiencing delays in the receipt of their applications:  
  • Call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (the Contact Center will not release information about the specifics of a case to anyone except you or your attorney.) They will not release information to ISS.  
  • DO NOT cancel your check or money order because it could complicate your situation and cause future problems on other requests you submit to USCIS.
  • Resubmitting your application may complicate your situation.  If you feel you need to resubmit your OPT application to USCIS, please consult with an ISS advisor. 
  • Email 
  • Submit a Case Inquiry at 
  • Request assistance from the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman at  
  • Send an email to with the subject line "USCIS receipt problems" and include: 
    • Your Full Name, 
    • UIN,
    • The date you mailed your application to USCIS,
    • How you mailed it ( i.e. with or without tracking), 
    • The tracking number (if applicable), and 
    • If USCIS cashed your check or if you sent the fee using another method (money order, etc.) 

January 12, 2021: Update from CIS Ombudsman - Case Assistance (Alert: USIS Receipt Notice Delays)
January 8, 2021: USCIS Alert about the Lockbox