Optional Practical Training

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, or more commonly, “OPT”, is off-campus work authorization in your field of study after you have graduated from MCC with your Associate's Degree. If granted by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) the authorization is for 12 months and 40 hours per week (full time).


If you are looking to apply for OPT you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Maintained F-1 status
  • In the final semester of your academic Associate's degree (non ESL or CCL)
  • Not have any outstanding charges on your account
  • Intend to apply for a job directly related to your field of study.

NOTE: You do not need to have a job offer when you apply for OPT

Recommended dates to apply for OPT

OPT authorization processing time might take up to 3 months or more. Therefore, we suggest that you start your application on time. The following dates are recommended for you to start your OPT application process.

Recommended deadlines to submit the online application on Terradotta:

  • As early as February 1 and no later than April 1 for Spring Semester Graduation
  • As early as April 1 and no later than July 1 for Summer Semester Graduation
  • As early as September 1 and no later that November 1 for Fall Semester Graduation

How to apply for OPT

OPT documents will be directly submitted to the USCIS by you. However, the International Education Office must review them first. Below are the steps for applying for OPT.

  1. Gather the necessary documents

    Students interested in applying for OPT will need to gather the following documents which will be uploaded in Terra Dotta.

    • Scanned copy of Petition for Graduation and Degree Check Sheet (original must be submitted to Admissions and Records office before graduation petition deadline)
    • Scanned copy of current passport – it must be valid at least six months into the future.
    • Scanned copy of current I-94 – you may retrieve your I-94 records at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/
    • Scanned copy of passport photo taken within 60 days before request date.
    • Photocopy of prior work permit card, if you have applied for OPT in the past
    • $470 fee payable to U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityRecommended form of payment can be a debit or credit card.
  2. Complete the online application

    Once you have gathered the required documentation log into your TerraDotta account. Complete the Optional Practical Training I-20 Request application.

    A couple of things to keep in mind:

    • Please answer all items as accurately as possible, read instructions carefully and submit all the required documentation. Any incorrect information or documentation that is submitted without following the guidelines correctly will result in your application being delayed.
    • Complete all items, if you do not complete all items your request will not be processed. If you have a question regarding an item please email us at ie@mesacc.edu.
  3. Meet with an advisor

    Once you have submitted all the required documents we will review your application and contact you regarding any documents you might have missed. Once approved, your I-20 will be issued and an appointment will be scheduled with the advisor by Google Meet for the application process.

  4. Complete I-765 form ONLINE

    Open an account using this link https://myaccount.uscis.gov/ The IE adviser will walk you through in the OPT online application process, review the final documentation before you submit your online application. This will eliminate potential error, delay and request for further evidence.

Application processing times

After the documents have been sent the processing times usually take between 90-100 days. If you applied at a later date than the one suggested you might run the risk of receiving your EAD card after your OPT start date. If that happens, the time that you wait for your EAD card to arrive after the start date cannot be recovered.

After USCIS has received your application, they will send a receipt to the mailing address you have provided. You can use the receipt number to check your OPT application status by going to http://www.uscis.gov/ (click on the Check your Case Status icon).

It is highly recommended that you do NOT move to a new address until you receive the EAD in your hands to avoid potential mailing delays.

Once you get your EAD card

Once your OPT has been approved you will:

1- Use the OPT Portal to update employer information. You will receive an email from SEVIS about creating your account in the Portal after your Post-OPT is approved. You will self-report to the OPT Portal any Changes of address, Change of employer and Change of job

2- Need to email the international advisors the following:

  • A photocopy of your EAD card as soon as you receive it.
  • If your OPT employer offers medical insurance you must submit an insurance waiver request prior to the start of both fall and spring semesters.

The international advisors’ email address is ie@mesacc.edu

Things to keep in mind

After your OPT has been approved you are allowed to have up to 90 days of unemployment. If you are unemployed for more than 90 days your OPT will automatically end.

Unemployment days accumulate. Meaning that if it took you 30 days from your start date to employment and then in between jobs you were unemployed for 20, those 50 days will add up and count towards your 90 days of unemployment.

You may apply for a legitimate volunteer position. This counts as employment.

Applying for a Social Security Number

The new I-765 online filing will include a simultaneous SSN application process. No separate SSN application is necessary.


F-1 students can still travel while on OPT but they need to also provide proof of employment. If you are waiting on your OPT authorization or are on OPT but unemployed we recommend that you do not travel.

For more information on traveling while on OPT please visit this page.

Notify the advisors of the following

You must notify the advisors if any of the following occurs:

  • Change of status
  • Leaving the country
  • Starting a new academic program/transferring to a new school