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About Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Pre-Completion of Studies

Students must be in status for a full academic year. OPT allows you to work part time while school is in session or full-time during official school breaks or annual vacations. Only twelve (12) total months are available for OPT. Any training completed before your degree is awarded will be deducted from the 12 month total and reduce the time available after your degree is awarded. For this reason, students prefer to apply for OPT post-completion of studies.

Post-Completion of Studies

Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to work in the United States after you complete your degree provided that the proposed employment is in your area of study. You do not need an offer of employment in order to apply for post-completion practical training. The period of time allowed for post-completion practical training is 12 months. Twelve (12) months must be used within 14 months of completion of study. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept applications for Post-Completion Optional Practical training up to 90 days prior to program end date and within 60 days after program completion. Post-completion OPT applicants may not request a start date that is more than 60 days after the student’s program end date. Approximately 2-4 weeks after you mail your application to USCIS, you should receive a “Notice of Action” (form I-797) stating that your documents have been received, and that the “processing time is approximately 90 days from the date of this receipt notice.” We cannot guarantee that you will receive the exact starting date that you request from the USCIS. Employment is permitted only after you receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, and only during the period specified on the card.


  • Application Procedures for OPT

    Please prepare the following documents and make an appointment with your Designated School Official (DSO) at Western University of Health Sciences for processing.

    1. Completed Optional Practical Training Request Form
    2. Completed Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. Select the link to download the I-765 Form. For question 20, enter (C) (3) (B) for post-completion OPT. For further information and instructions please visit the USCIS website.Note: If you know you will have a change of address after you submit your OPT application, please use WesternU’s mailing address on the I-765 Application form.Western University of Health Sciences, Attn: OISS, 309 E. Second Street, Pomona, CA 91766.
    3. Letter from your College signed by your Dean or Associate Dean recommending OPT and expected date of completion of studies. See sample letter below.
    4. Two (2) color photographs. Please view the Composition Checklist for photographs provided by the U.S. Department of State. Write your name on the back of each photo and enclose your photos in a small envelope so they are not damaged when they are mailed.
    5. Processing fee for Form I-765. Check or money-order in the amount of $550.00 payable to Department of Homeland Security.
    6. Photocopy of Passport. Include pages containing expiration date of your passport and your photo.
    7. Photocopy of your I-94 card – paper if traveled into the U.S. by land or electronic Form I-94 if traveled into the U.S. by air.
    8. Photocopies of current I-20 and all I-20s issued for CPT.
    9. Photocopies of previous EADs (if applicable)

    After you have prepared the above application materials you can drop them off to OISS. Your DSO will verify all documents and prepare your OPT I-20. A cover letter stating that you are applying for a work permit under Post-Completion Optional Practical Training will also be prepared for you to mail with your application. If you would like your EAD card mailed to an address different than the one you indicated on your I-765 form, please inform your DSO in writing.

    Your DSO will prepare your application packet for you to mail. It is recommended that you mail all documents by “certified mail with a return receipt.”

  • Sample Letter from Your College


    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

    To Whom It May Concern:

    This is to certify that (student’s Name) will complete all of the requirements for his/her (type of degree) as of (date). I feel that it would greatly complement his/her formal education if he/she were to obtain permission to engage in practical training in a field related to his/her studies. (Note: please be as specific as possible here.)


    (To be signed by your Associate Dean of College)