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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

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Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment directly related to a student’s field of study and is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience complementary to the academic program. An F-1 student is eligible for a MAXIMUM OF 12 MONTHS. However, if a student begins a new academic program at a higher level (e.g. masters after bachelor’s degree or PhD after masters), the student is eligible for another 12 months of OPT. While on optional practical training, individuals are still considered to be F-1 students at Jackson State University even though they may be working elsewhere in the United States. Therefore, students are required to report within 10-days any changes in name, address, employer’s information and periods of interruption in employment.


  • Be an F-1 student visa holder who has been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year prior to submitting an OPT application
  • Be maintaining lawful F-1 status
  • Intend to obtain employment in a position directly related to your major field of study.
  • Have not completed more than 364 days of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
  • Have not utilized an equivalent of 12 months of OPT work authorization in current degree level.
  • Have not already completed a degree at this level (e.g., second bachelor’s degree) or at a higher level. Are not in an English language training program.



  • The I-765 and OPT I-20 must be received by USCIS no sooner than 90 days before the program end date and no later than 60 days after the program end date.
  • In addition, the Form I-765 and I-20 in support of post-completion OPT must be received by USCIS no later than 30 days after the DSO updates SEVIS with the OPT recommendation.
  • Program completion is defined as the day that you complete all requirements for your degree.  This is normally the graduation day, but in some cases may be earlier if, for example, a graduate student defends his/her thesis/dissertation early in the semester. 



JSU Global assists with processing OPT applications and materials; however actual employment authorization is given by U.S. Citizenship and immigration Services (USCIS). Once all documentation listed below has been gathered, please submit them to JSU Global ISSS office.


Application needs to be received by the USCIS within 30 days of OPT I-20 issue date.

1.      Complete Form I-765  (black ink or typed).
        (Note for Post-Completion OPT ONLY: for question #16, write (c) (3) (b).)
2.      Complete OPT Applicant Contact Sheet
3.      Memo from academic department on stating students name, degree, major and graduation date.
4.      Unofficial academic transcript (print from JSU PAWS account).
5.      The following items are required for the submission of your OPT application to USCIS.
  • Two (2) passport photographs: On the back of each photo, write your full name and I-94 #. Photo guidelines here.
  • Copy of Passport and Copy of VISA
  • Copy of Social Security Card, (if applicable)
  • Print out your I-94 card.
  • Make a photocopy of ALL previously issued I-20s
  • Photocopy of Change of Status I-797 receipt if you changed status to F-1 inside the U.S. (if applicable)
  • Photocopy of previous EAD cards (if applicable)
  • Check or Money Order for $410.00 (Immigration Fee Guidlines) made payable to: U.S Department of Homeland Security

Submit COPIES of all documents to JSU Global FIRST. Once submitted an ISSS advisor will review your application packet and issue YOU two new I-20s with the OPT recommendation on page 2 (one for your personal record, and one to be signed and mailed with your application materials).

Once you have the new I-20 you must SIGN BEFORE SENDING to USCIS along with the ORIGINAL I-765, passport photos and $410 filing fee. You should send copies of your passport, visa, I-94 and previously issued I-20’s.

OPT Application Packet

JSU Global

JSU Global
1400 JR Lynch Street
P.O. Box 17103
Jackson, MS 39217

Phone: 601.979.1611