Immigration Lawyer Offers Checklist for F-1 Students OPT Application

As an immigration lawyer, I find that students with an F-1 visa who go through the OPT application procedure can often be intimidated by the various aspects of the process. From my offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, I work with clients from all 50 states on this process. Here’s a checklist for F-1 students interested in engaging in the OPT application procedure.

Recommendation Request from Designated School Official (DSO)


Those who think they would profit from practical training in their field and consider themselves to be OPT eligible should first meet with their Designated School Official (DSO), who is their international advisor, and request a recommendation. The DSO must issue a recommendation for OPT in SEVIS and provide the student with Form I-20, which has been updated. The student must submit the Form I-20 with the employment authorization application.


Form 1-765, Application for Employment Authorization


The Application for Employment Authorization (Form 1-765) must be filled out.


Collect All Documents

The following supporting evidence and immigration documents must then be collected. These will be submitted with the Application for Employment Authorization.

  • Form I-94 with both sides photocopied.
  • A photocopy of valid passport including photo page, if original page has expired renewal page, and all pages displaying amendments such as any name changes, corrections, etc.
  • Photocopy of visa page if applicable.
  • Photocopies of all Form I-20s that have been issued to you.
  • Photocopies of any previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD).
  • Two identical photographs (see photograph instructions on the Form I-765).
  • The $340 fee in the form of a check or money order made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Meeting with DSO

Meet with the DSO to review all application materials and to obtain a copy of the recommendation and the updated Form I-20.


Photocopy All Materials and File

Photocopy all materials for yourself and submit your application materials, including Form I-765 and supporting documents with the appropriate USCIS Service Center.

This is a basic checklist that I’ve found useful in my immigration law practice. It’s important that petitioners fill out all materials completely and submit each required document.   Please note that your school may have specific requirements not discusses in this article and you should always speak with an international student advisor at your school regarding OPT.

Please contact the Ranchod Law Group with offices serving San Francisco, San Jose Bay Area, and Sacramento California, at or at 415-986-6186 if you have any questions regarding the OPT application process or immigration.
[gravityform id=2 title=true description=true]