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I-765 Guide and Notes

Common Errors to Avoid and Frequently Asked Questions When Filling Out the I-765

Please note: USCIS can change its guidance and directions at any time and the directions listed on the USCIS website here,, are the ultimate authority and reference when filling out the form I-765.

We have provided the guidance below as a courtesy to assist you when placing your OPT Application Request to our office ONLY . USCIS or an immigration attorney should be consulted for any final advice or guidance when filing the application packet to USCIS. The below information DOES NOT constitute legal advice and is for guidance only.

There is always the possibility that an update to the form I-765 may change the references below and parts and numbers for questions may not match. If a reference to an item below causes uncertainties or by chance the information below becomes outdated, it is always best to consult the USCIS site or e-mail us at if you see any inconsistencies in the parts or numbers for questions that are referenced.

We also have included Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that follow the guide.

Part 1

In part 1 of the I-765, it asks what your reason for applying is. Please note that there are different options for applying for either 12 month post completion OPT and the STEM Extension:

  • If applying for regular 12 month post-completion OPT, you will need to check box #1a ("Initial permission to accept employment.").
  • STEM Extension ONLY – If you are applying for your OPT STEM extension, you need to check box #1c ("Renewal of my permission to accept employment").

Part 2

  • For questions #1a - #1b of part 2 of the I-765, please be sure your given name and family name are in the correct order. Your family name should go in question #1a and your given name in question #1b. If you have used other names and/or alias’, please see parts 2a-2c.
  • For question #6, please be sure to check ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to indicate if your physical address is the same as your mailing address.
  • For question #8, please make sure to list your Alien Registration Number (also known as the USCIS #). It is the 9-digit number on your EAD card (if issued one prior for OPT or otherwise) under the heading "USCIS #".
  • On question #10 , please make sure to check one of the options.
  • On question #11, please make sure to check one of the available options.
  • If you are sending your application by mail:
  • On your I-765, question #12 asks if you have previously filed an I-765. If you answered "yes", use the space in section 6 (the final page) to list:

    - any employment you used the I-765 to apply for,
    - whether you were approved/denied/withdrew your application,
    - and the actual approved start and end dates for all approved applications (your initial OPT, any other OPTs you have done, other types of work authorization that used the I-765, etc.).
    - If you have received any other type of work authorizations (such as CPT or economic hardship) on your current SEVIS ID number, please use this same space to indicate the approved start and end dates of those employments, as well as if it was full-time or part-time approval.}
  • On question #13, please make sure to check one of the options and do not leave it blank. Please then proceed to read the directions after regarding the question about a social security number and carefully answer the remaining questions.
  • If you are sending your application by mail:
  • For question #14, check either yes or no.
    - Only answer yes if you need Social Security to re-issue your existing SSN card (such as in the case of a missing or damaged card that needs replaced). If you answer "yes", please make sure you answer questions #15 - #17b.
    - I f you have never been issued a Social Security Number, it is possible to apply for one using the I-765. If you wish to apply for the SSN using the I-765, please make sure you check "yes" for question #14 and answer questions #15 - #17b.
    - If you do not need the Social Security Office to reissue your card, answer "no" to question #14 and leave questions #15 - #17b blank.
  • For question #18, you will need to list your country of citizenship.
  • On question #20, please make sure you write you birthday in the month/date/year format - MM/DD/YYYY
  • For question #21a, you need to enter list your correct I-94 number and be sure that it matches the I-94 that you uploaded to your OPT Application Request. This part cannot be left blank.
  • For question #21b, please make sure you list your most recent passport number correctly and it matches the passport number currently uploaded with your OPT Application Request.
  • For question #21e, please list the expiration date of your most recent passport and it matches the expiration date currently uploaded with your OPT Application Request.
  • On question #22, you need to enter your last date of entry into the US in the month/date/year format - MM/DD/YYYY.
  • For question #25, you need to state your current immigration status (in this case, F-1 student).
  • For question #26, you will need to list your SEVIS ID number that matches your current SEVIS record and I-20.
  • In Part 2 of your I-765, question #27 asks for the eligibility code. Please be sure to choose the correct eligibility code:
For 12-month post-completion OPT, use eligibility code: [c] [3] [B]

For the STEM OPT Extension, you will need to enter eligibility code: [c] [3] [C]

  • Make sure to leave question #28a - #28c blank, since it is intended to be completed by individuals who are filing under a different eligibility category.

Part 3

  • Make sure that you check the appropriate box on the "Applicant's Statement" section of page 4 of your I-765.
  • For #7a, If you are sending your application to USCIS by mail, please don't forget to hand sign and date your I-765 in ink!
  • For #7b, you need to enter the date your ink sign in month/date/year format - MM/DD/YYYY.

Part 4

  • If you are not using the services of an interpreter, please make sure you leave all of Part 4 blank.

Part 5

  • If you have prepared your application on your own behalf, please make sure you leave all of Part 5 of the I-765 blank. That section is meant to be used by individuals who have a third party assembling the application on their behalf.
  • If you are sending your application by mail:
  • In Part 5 of the I-765, if you used the services of a 3rd party to prepare your application, then please make sure the preparer signs the I-765 with ink.

Part 6

  • Use this page to provide additional information from parts 1-5 and about previous employment work authorization with USCIS.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the OPT Request Process:

Q. How does ISSS determine my program end date for my updated OPT I-20?

A. Your program end date for your I-20 in your request cannot be after the last day of finals for the semester. We will use the last day of finals for your program end date if your advisor or you indicate a date past the last date of finals.

Q. How is the recommended OPT start date determined?

A. Your recommended OPT start date will need to be within the 60 day grace period or after the day your 60 day grace period expires. USCIS will make the final decision and assign your start and end dates based on the requested dates, but does not guarantee that you will be assigned the dates that you request.

Q. Do I need to have employment secured at the time I make a request for OPT from the ISSS office?

A. It is not required to have employment when applying for post-completion OPT. This is purely optional, and you can submit an OPT application to USCIS without employment information. There is no indication that USCIS will process your application sooner with job information already included in SEVIS and on your OPT I-20.
  • To include any employment information in your OPT I-20, you will need to submit to us an offer letter included with your OPT request documents. This can be sent to with the subject line: “OPT Employment to include with application and request”.

    Please submit this letter with your OPT Application request or as soon as possible before your request is finished. USCIS guidance requires us to review job duties and other information about the job for degree relevance before adding employment information into SEVIS as well.

    If you would like us to include employment information on your OPT I-20, please be sure that the offer letter you provide for the upcoming job at least includes employer name, your job title, tentative start date, hours you will be working (full-time or part-time), employer address, and a description of the job duties. If the EIN and supervisor contact info is known, this is also recommended and welcome to be provided.
Q. Do I need to have a valid passport to apply for OPT?

A. Please be aware that USCIS typically requires applicants to have at least six months remaining on their passport when submitting applications. If you have begun the process of renewing your passport or have already received a renewal, please include this evidence with the rest of the application if you are mailing your documents to USCIS. If you are submitting electronically, please include the passport scan and evidence of renewal in the same PDF file.
  • Other notes about an expired (or expiring passport with renewal): If you have a stamp or notice in your passport stating that your embassy has renewed it, or other documentation from your embassy that supports your passport's current validity, please make a scan of it and include it with the rest of your OPT application with USCIS.

    If you haven't begun the process to renew your passport, it is strongly recommended that you contact your embassy as soon as possible to discuss how to initiate the process before making a request for OPT with ISSS and before you submit any documentation to USCIS after your I-20 is complete (we also must collect and review evidence of plans for renewal first since the recommendation in SEVIS is based on the applicant having a valid passport as a condition for our recommendation for OPT).

    If you have an updated passport, please make sure you use a scanned copy of the bio page from the renewed passport with your application to USCIS.
Q. What if I cannot mail my application in time to USCIS?

A. USCIS has strict deadlines for submission based on when your recommendation was completed by ISSS and/or your expiration of your grace period after your program end date. If you are close to any deadline for submission to USCIS, it is strongly advised that you submit your application to USCIS via the online filing system or mail your application with a guaranteed delivery date by the deadline and use a service that provides tracking info.
  • As you consider application deadlines, please also consider the possibility of weather-related delays which may result in application filings by mail reaching USCIS after your 60-day grace period ends.
  • If you prefer, you can find the link for the online filing option by visiting and clicking the blue button labeled "File Online".
  • If you are filing online, you will just need to transfer your answers to the online filing system's questionnaire.
  • Filing online will allow USCIS to provide you with an instant receipt notice and number for your application.
  • If you still decide to mail your documents to USCIS, it is strongly recommended that the I-765 be typed (with an ink signature) instead of handwritten to allow greater ease of reading for USCIS and to use a shipping method that will give you guaranteed delivery to USCIS by the deadline and also provide you tracking for the application package.