Applying for OPT

It typically takes about 3 months for OPT to be approved, so we recommend starting the process early. 

Step 1: Attend an OPT Session.

Fall 2017 OPT Sessions

Held in the Reves Center Conference Room (2nd floor of Reves Center).

  • Monday, September 18 (12 - 1pm)
  • Friday, September 29 (3 - 4pm)
  • Friday, October 6 (4 - 5pm)
  • Monday, October 9 (3 - 4pm)

Step 2: Complete the Reves Optional Practical Training e-form:

  • Access the form via iStart.
  • Log into iStart with your W&M ID and password (click on blue login button).
  • Expand the F-1 Practical Training menu on the left.
  • Click on Optional Practical Training Application. Complete required fields and submit.

Step 3: Make an OPT appointment with a Reves Staff member (Emily, Zabrina, Eva).

  • Call the Reves Center (757-221-3590) for an appointment. Do not schedule by email.
  • Before your appointment, you must complete all forms, collect I-20s, make photocopies, and obtain photos. Bring all items listed on the OPT packet checklist (page 1).
  • We recommend downloading the OPT forms, and saving a copy of your completed OPT forms, so you can make edits following your appointment if needed. In most cases, the fillable form will only work with the most updated version of Adobe Reader. If you complete the forms in a browser prior to downloading, you will most likely be unable to save your responses.
  • At your appointment, your advisor will review your application, and issue a new OPT I-20.

Step 4: Mail your OPT materials.

  • Following your appointment, you will mail your application to USCIS (Immigration). 
  • Your OPT application must arrive at USCIS within 30 days of when we issued your OPT I-20 (60 days if you're applying for a STEM extension). If it arrives late, it may be denied. Worried about timing? Talk with your international advisor.
  • About 2-3 weeks after USCIS receives your application, they will mail you a Receipt Notice. On the Receipt Notice there is a Receipt Number (like a tracking number for your application/case). With it, you can check your case status online.

Step 5: Your card arrives and you may start working.

  • Your card will typically arrive about 3 months after you receive the Receipt Notice.
  • You may begin working when you receive the card and reach the start date on the card.