I-765 Guidelines for OPT and STEM OPT applications


These directions are meant to help you with best practices in completing the Form I-765 for an OPT or STEM OPT Extension application.  Please note, this is not legal advice!


General Guidelines

You can find the Form I-765 and official instructions to complete the form here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765.  Be sure to use the version of the form from this website, and not an older version you might have saved!

Be sure to TYPE the form, do not complete it by hand.  The only exception is your signature.  The data entry for these forms is done via machine-reading, so handwriting is easily misinterpreted and can result in incorrect information in your application.

For any item you do not complete, write “NA” (short for “Not applicable”) or, if the question asks for a number response, write “None.”

Guidance here is only given for those items that can be somewhat confusing in nature.  Please fill all fields, regardless of whether suggestions are given here!


Part 1

OPT: Check the “Initial Permission” box
STEM OPT Extension: Check the “Renewal” box


Part 2
  • Item 2: Share any other way your name is given on your legal documents.  This includes “FNU,” multiple last names you may sometimes use, or previous names you used if you changed your name for any reasons, such as marriage.
  • Item 5: This is the address where USCIS will mail your documents related to this application only.  If using anyone else’s address, BE SURE to put their name in the “In Care Of Name” field, to ensure delivery. You are welcome to use the ISSS Office address but please note there will be extra time between delivery to campus and arrival in the ISSS Office. ISSS will contact you via email when we receive your receipt, approval notice and EAD. Please do not send emails after receiving a delivery notification from USPS – there is additional time (2-5 days) between when mail is delivered to campus and when it arrives in the ISSS Office.  To use our address, enter it like this:
    5.a. In Care of Name: UMBC ISSS Office
    5.b. Street Number and Name: 1000 Hilltop Cr University Center 207
    5.d. City or Town: Baltimore
    5.e.: State: MD
    5.f. ZIP Code: 21250
    PLEASE NOTE, effective Oct 2, 2020, USCIS is using “the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service.”  An ID and signature is required from you, or someone you designate using a USPS form, to receive your EAD card.  More details are here: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-to-begin-using-more-secure-mail-delivery-service
  • Item 6: Check YES if you currently live in the same address you just gave as the place to send your documents, in item 5.  If you check yes, you do NOT have to complete Item 7.  If you check NO, please complete item 7.
  • Item 7: Please give the address where you currently live.  USCIS will NOT mail documents here, and its okay if this will change over the course of your application processing.  Just use the address where you live today.
  • Item 8: STEM OPT Extension only!  You will only have an A-Number if you are applying for the STEM OPT Extension, and it will be on your EAD card (called a “USCIS number”).  Those applying for OPT should leave this field blank.
  • Item 9: USCIS Online Account Number should be filled with “none.”  If you cannot save this field without completing it, you can either leave it blank and write it in by hand after you print it, or follow the typed word “none” with “x” repeated until all spaces are filled.
  • Items 13 – 17: 
    • If you have an SSN, please give it in Item 13b.  You can then check NO for Item 14, and skip down to item 18.
    • If you do NOT have an SSN, you can apply for it through this application, and your SSN will be issued to you when your OPT application is approved.  You would answer NO to item 13.a., YES to Item 14, and give the required information in items 15-17
  • Item 21a: Your I-94 number is found on your most recent I-94 entry record.  You can access your most recent I-94 by using this link and going to “Get Most Recent I-94.”  Please be sure that you use the I-94 from your most recent entry to the US!  If you most recently entered the US after a short trip to Canada or Mexico, your trip may not have been recorded in your I-94 history.  In this case, we suggest using the last I-94 record that does exist, and answer all related questions based on that trip.If your I-94 is incorrect or does not show your most recent trip trip that was NOT a short trip to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, you will need to work with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to get it corrected.  You can find directions on how to get this correction done at the bottom of this website here.
  • Item 21.c: Write “NA” if you have a passport.  For almost everyone, this will be “NA.”
  • Item 24: This is “F-1 student” unless you changed your status from within the US, and have not left the US since then.
  • Item 25: This is “F-1 student.”
  • Item 26: You can find your SEVIS ID number at the top left of your I-20.  It starts with N00.
  • Item 27: This item is asking you to give the regulatory citation of the kind of work permission you are applying for.
    • OPT: (c)(3)(B)
    • STEM OPT Extension: (c)(3)(C)
  • Item 28: STEM OPT Only!  Applicants for OPT can leave this blank.
    • Item 28a: List your degree level AND subject (e.g. “MS InfoSys,” or “PhD CompSci”).
    • Item 28.c: Be sure that this number is 5-7 digits long.  Employers and students often confuse this request for an EIN tax ID number for the company, or the individual student’s E-Verify ID.   You will need to ask your company for this number, as it is not public knowledge.
  • Items 29 – 31: Skip these, as they are for other immigration categories only.


Part 3

Sign in Item 7.a. in black ink – this should be an original signature, and cannot be typed or stamped.


Parts 4-5

Draw a diagonal line across each page you are not completing, and write “NA” next to your line.  See the sample below:

I-765 sample NA page


Part 6

Complete this section only if:

  • You have been approved for CPT in the past  (Provide this information on initial OPT applications, but NOT STEM OPT Extension applications)
  • You have been approved for OPT in the past  (Required for STEM OPT extension applications; on initial OPT applications, only provide this information if you have worked in OPT after a previous degree completed in F-1 status)
  • You have used a different SEVIS ID in F-1 status in the US (for example, you attended school for a while, left the US to take a break from school, and returned with a new I-20, you would have a SEVIS ID from your first period of attendance that is different than your current SEVIS ID).  Your SEVIS ID is on the top right corner of your I-20, and starts with N00..

If you need to complete this section because one or more of these apply to you, please complete item 1.

For each of the items listed above, complete one box in Part 6.  We suggest using the following to complete the Page number, Part Number, and Item number, as this information is required specific to Category (c)(3)(B) (per the I-765 instructions, page 4):

Page 3, Part 2, Item 27

  • CPT: Please list your CPT approvals.  We suggest this format: CPT Authorizations. (as a title to the section).  Employer Name; Start date – End date; Part-time (PT) or Full-time (FT); Degree level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD).  You can find your CPT details on the I-20 that was approved for each period of CPT.
  • OPT: Please list your past OPT approvals.  We suggest this format:  OPT Authorizations. (as a title to the section). Start date – End date; Degree level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD)
  • Previous SEVIS ID’s: Please list your other SEVIS ID’s you have used in the past. We suggest this format: Previous SEVIS ID’s (as a title to the section).  SEVIS ID: N00…..; program start date – program end date; Degree level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD).

Click here to see a sample version of Part 6 of the I-765 with examples of previous CPT approval, OPT completed at a previous degree level, and a previous SEVIS ID number.  NOTE: These are examples— not all of these will necessarily apply to you!