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Application Process

Application Materials

Compile the OPT application documents listed below to submit to ISSS at least 3 months in advance of your requested OPT start date.

Student OPT Application Checklist


Use this form to help you gather the required application materials and keep track of your application process. Print it and bring it with you when you come to submit your application to ISSS.
Completed and signed ISSS OPT Application This form must be filled in and signed by both you and your academic advisor. This form must have original signatures. Please type and print. Handwritten forms will not be accepted.


Form I-765 Application Fee: $410 personal check, cashier’s check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If this is a personal check, the account holder’s name and address must be on the check.
Passport-style photos: Write your full name and your most recent I-94 admission number (11 digits) on the back of each photo—do not use gel ink. The photos must be taken within 30 days of when you will file your application.
Form G-1145 Form: Fill this in electronically and print it. Handwritten forms will not be accepted.
Form I-765: Fill this in electronically and print it. The SSN field must be entered by hand. Write clearly and legibly. The rest of the form must be type written. Forms filled in entirely by hand will not be accepted.
Most recent I-94 Print your most recent electronic I-94 entry record from www.cpb.gov/I94. If you were issued a paper I-94 and have not travelled outside of the US since that date, make a copy of the front and back of the paper I-94.


Passport Copy Make a copy of the page(s) in your passport that show your name, date of birth and passport expiration date.
Visa Stamp


Make a copy of the most recent F-1 visa stamp in your passport. If you are Canadian, please make a copy of your most recent F-1 entry stamp.
Previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD cards) if you previously been granted employment


Make a copy of the front and back of any previous EAD cards you have been issued. If this EAD was for F-1 OPT, also make a copy of the OPT I-20 issued to you for that period of work permission.


All OPT applications must be reviewed by an advisor when they are submitted. Please come during walk-in hours or make an appointment with an ISSS advisor to submit your OPT application materials for review.

Application Process

  1. Once you have all of your completed OPT application materials, submit them with an ISSS advisor for review. Please allow five business days for processing at ISSS.
  2. When your application has been accepted by ISSS, an advisor will process your OPT recommendation and issue your OPT I-20. You will receive an email when your application is ready to be picked up.
  3. Return to ISSS to sign your OPT I-20 and pick up your OPT application packet.
  4. Send your OPT application packet to USCIS via courier (FedEx, UPS, DHL) or USPS Express Mail only. Do not send your application via regular USPS mail. Use the filing addresses below based on your mailing method. Do not delay in sending your application. Your OPT application must arrive at USCIS within 30 days from the date your OPT I-20 was issued and within 30 days from the date on your form I-765. If it arrives after that time period, the application will be rejected and you will have to refile the application. The application fee from the denied application will not be refunded to you.
USCIS Dallas Lockbox Filing Address for Courier (FedEx, UPS, DHL) USCIS Dallas Lockbox Filing Address for USPS
Attention: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121; Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX  75067
Phone: 1-800-375-5283
USCIS, Dallas Lockbox
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX  75266

USCIS Processing

I-797 Receipt Notice: Within approximately two weeks of receiving your application, USCIS will send out your I-797 Receipt Notice. When it arrives at ISSS we will email you to notify you. Review your I-797 carefully. Check the spelling of your name and your date of birth. If you notice any errors, contact ISSS right away.

I-797 Approval Notice and Employment Authorization Document (EAD): USCIS will review your application and return a decision in writing. This process usually takes around 90 days, however it can at times be longer than this. Once your I-765 application has been approved, USCIS will send out a paper I-797 Approval Notice and your Employment Authorization Card (EAD) separately. When they arrive at ISSS we will notify you via email. If you are no longer in Nashville, you will need to set up a mailing label using eshipglobal.(Please see our document mailing options page for additional details.) Your International Student Adviser will review your application materials, issue a new I-20 with OPT recommendation, and finalize your OPT Application Package.  You will receive an email from your International Student Adviser when your OPT application is ready to pick up at ISSS.

You do not have permission to begin employment (paid or unpaid) until: 1) your OPT application has been approved 2) you have received the EAD and 3) the start date printed on it has arrived. Employment is not permitted before the approved start date or after the approved end date. OPT is not contingent upon an employment offer.

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Office Hours
Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm

Walk-In Hours
Monday – Friday 1:30pm-3:30pm

To meet with an adviser outside of walk-in hours, please email isss@vanderbilt.edu to make appointments at least 24 hours in advance.

Contact Us

Phone: (615)322-2753
Fax: 615-343-7799
Email: isss@vanderbilt.edu

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