F Current Employment

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OIE serves students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders with a hybrid approach that includes both virtual and in-person services.  While most services are provided virtually, some matters require in-person meetings. When meeting in-person is required, an OIE staff member will contact you directly to schedule a mutually agreeable day and time for the meeting. OIE is respecting social distancing and cleaning protocols as described in “Tech Moving Forward”. 

International Students and Scholars: Drop-in AdvisingMake an AppointmentAdvising Information info@oie.gatech.edu
Education Abroad: Make an Appointment  education.abroad@oie.gatech.edu
Global Research & Internship Program: Make an Appointment  education.abroad@oie.gatech.edu
International Plan Undergraduate Designation Program: Make an Appointment internationalplan@oie.gatech.edu
On-Campus Internationalization : Information Contact Page
For all other inquiries:  Refer to our staff list

What is a Social Security Number?
A Social Security Number (SSN) is a permanent nine-digit identification number administered by the Social Security Administration, an agency of the U.S. federal government. SSNs are required for anyone employed in the U.S. because it tracks income for employers and the IRS, but is not required for anything else

Who is eligible to receive a Social Security Number?

  • F-1 students who are employed are eligible for a Social Security Number. F-2s are not eligible for a Social Security Number.
  • J visa holders are eligible for a Social Security Number whether employed or not. If a J visa holder is not employed, OIE would encourage you to think carefully about whether you would like to apply for an SSN because of some dangers of having one (see below).

Who is required to have a Social Security Number?
All individuals working in the U.S. are required to have a Social Security Number. Many jobs do not require you to have a Social Security Number to begin working, but you should submit SSN information to your employer as soon as possible.

Why is everyone asking for my Social Security Number?
International visitors are not required to have a Social Security Number to enter the U.S., open a bank account, sign a lease, or get a Georgia driver's license. However, it is likely that you will be asked for an SSN when trying to do these things. This is because SSNs are used to check your financial credit history (i.e. do you pay bills on time?). 

If you are asked for an SSN by a cell phone carrier, bank, landlord, etc. you should explain that you are not eligible for one. Since you do not have a financial credit history, you may be asked to pay a higher deposit for certain services.

I am employed and/or eligible for a Social Security Number. How do I get one?
International visitors who are eligible for a Social Security Number can apply with an Active immigration records and after being inside the U.S. for 10 days. Your record will be activated after you complete the OIE check-in. If you arrived recently and are not sure if your SEVIS record has been registered, please email info@oie.gatech.edu to confirm.

Note: If working at Georgia Tech, you may begin working and get paid without a Social Security Number. However, you should apply for an SSN as soon as possible and report information to Global HR after you receive it.

For a list of required documentation and information of the closest Social Security Office, please see OIE's Social Security Handout.

As the Social Security Administration Offices are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, OIE has worked with the local Social Security Administration Offices to schedule interview appointments. Students currently located within the local Metro Atlanta area can request assistance with scheduling an appointment to apply for a social security card by completing the SSA Assistance Request e-form in iStart located under the SSN and Taxes tab. OIE will share the information collected in the e-form to the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration will then prioritize appointments based on students’ practical training start date. OIE will confirm the appointment date, time, and location with the student via email. For more information, please review our website.

Requesting a Social Security support letter from OIE
Students working on-campus need to request a Social Security support letter from OIE. You can request this support letter by loggin into iStart and submit the e-form request found under SSN and Taxes. You will be required to upload your job offer letter into the e-form. A support letter will be generated for you within five business days and you'll receive an email that it's ready to be picked up at OIE's front desk.

For those not employed by GT, you are not required to have an OIE Support letter for your application. You will instead use your employment offer letter. Please note, international student visa holders are not eligible to begin employment off-campus unless they have a valid work authorization.

Protecting your Social Security Number
If you get a Social Security Number, you should protect it in order to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. While you likely will be asked for your SSN when leasing an apartment, setting up a bill or service (cell phone, utilities), or opening a bank account, you should protect your Social Security Number and do not give it out freely. You should not carry your Social Security card around with you. You should keep your card (and your number) in a safe place and do not give it out to anyone who does not have a legitimate reason to ask for it.

If someone is able to get your Social Security Number, they can open bank accounts or buy things under your name! You can quickly become a victim of identity theft if someone gets your number and they can cause problems far into the future. Do not give your number over the phone or via email, particularly if you did not initiate contact.

If someone is asking you for your Social Security Number and you do not know if you should give it to them, please feel free to email info@oie.gatech.edu and an international student advisor will help to advise on what you should do.

The primary purpose of an individual in the U.S. on F-1 status is to study. Students should consider employment as a benefit of F-1 status and and not as a right. Employment without authorization is a grave offense of the F status and affects a student's ability to remain in or return to the United States. Before accepting any type of employment opportunities, please be certain than F regulations allow the employment by reviewing the information provided by OIE. You may send any questions to an international student advisors after reviewing this information by making an advisor appointment.

General Eligibility of Employment

There are two types of employment authorization: on-campus and off-campus. Off-campus employment consists of Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training. Different requirements exist for each type of F employment but there are basic requirements which must be met for any F-1 employment:

  • You must be in valid F-1 status and in good academic standing at Georgia Institute of Technology pursuing a full course of study (except during the summer semester and school holidays).
  • A student who is out of status is not eligible for any F-1 benefits, including employment.
  • Once employment is authorized, you must maintain your student visa status or you will lose the benefit to continue employment.

In addition to these general eligibility standards, please review the website for each type of employment for additional eligibility requirements.

Types of Employment

On-Campus Employment
Students enrolled in classes full-time are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during fall and spring semester. On-campus employment means that you are paid by Georgia Tech or working at a Georgia Tech location with an employer that is contracted to provide services to students, such as a food store in the Student Center. On-campus employment is a benefit of the F-1 visa status upon reporting to Georgia Institute of Technology and completing the OIE check-in process. On-campus work is subject to GT policies.

F-1 students are eligible to work on campus:

  • Fall/Spring academic semesters: Maximum of 20 hours per week
  • Semester breaks, Official school/Summer Vacation: Full-time on-campus employment is allowed during this time. Full-time work is considered to be 20+ hours/week. (Exception: if a student is required to register for the summer, such as a GRA/GTA, then only 20 hours per week maximum is permitted). This full-time eligibility is subject to GT policy.
  • On-campus employment is not permitted after program completion unless the student has applied for off-campus work authorization. See an International Student Advisor for details.

A great way to search for employment on campus is to utilize the Student Center employment resources. Please see their website on working at GT, including the Student Center Jobs Board and the Campus Jobs Board. Many international students also find success is work as a tutor for Student Athlete Services.

Off-Campus Employment
In general, F students must be enrolled full-time (12 credit hours) for two fall or spring semesters before becoming eligible for off-campus employment. This means that if a student begins their academic program in a fall semester, they will be eligible for off-campus work after attending full-time fall and spring semesters. If a student begins in the spring semester, they must attend full-time spring semester and the next fall semester before becoming eligible for off-campus work. 

The two types of off-campus employment are:

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Social Security Number Considerations

Any student who will work in the U.S. must apply for a Social Security Number, as the employer will need the SSN to report wages and taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). F students are eligible to apply for an SSN after they have received an offer of employment that meets SSA standards. For more information on Social Security Numbers, please see our website and our Social Security Number handout.

  • Students who will work on-campus should request a SSN Letter of Support from OIE. To request a letter of support, please log into iStart and complete the SSN Letter Request for F-1 Students found under SSN and Taxes. 
  • Students who have approved off-campus authorization may use the third page of their I-20 listing the employment authorization in order to apply for an SSN.
What is Curricular Practical Training?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an authorization issued by the International Student & Scholar Office (ISSS) that permits F-1 students to participate in off-campus experiential learning opportunities. During the CPT authorization, the student must be enrolled in an academic course that guides their experience and measures their learning outcomes.

F-1 students must receive the approval for their CPT authorization from OIE before starting their employment and are only authorized to participate in the CPT during the authorization dates listed on the I-20 form. And CPT is employer specific. This means that when a student is authorized for CPT, they are authorized to work only for the employer between the authorization dates. For general information about CPT, please visit the Study in the States guidance provided by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

What are some of the factors that determine CPT eligibility?

In order for OIE to consider a student’s eligibility for CPT, the student must:

- Complete at least one full academic year of full-time enrollment inside the U.S. (only fall and spring terms can count toward an academic year)

- Be in good academic standing

- Engage in a practical training opportunity integral to the student’s primary degree program

- Have degree required courses remaining in their program.

My program does not require an internship. Am I still eligible to apply for CPT?

Yes, if you are interested in participating in CPT, but your program does not require an internship, you may still be eligible. The experiential learning opportunity must be integral to your degree program and cannot impede your academic progress in the degree program.

Am I eligible to participate in CPT after I’ve met all degree requirements?

No. By regulatory standard, CPT must be an integral part of your degree program. F-1 student visa holder who have already met all degree requirements are no longer eligible for CPT. Students who have met all degree course requirements are eligible to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) to continue practical training

I am a thesis-track student, am I eligible to participate in CPT after my defense date?

No, because CPT must be an integral part of your degree program, student who have successfully defended are considered to have met degree requirements and are no longer eligible for CPT. Students in this scenario should consider applying for post-completion OPT to continue practical training.

Am I eligible for full-time CPT during my final academic term?

Only F-1 student visa holders in degree programs that require a practicum/internship in the final semester of the program are allowed to request full-time CPT in their final semester.

I am an online student applying to study at the Georgia Tech Atlanta campus, will I be eligible for CPT when I gain F-1 student visa status?

Online students transferring to the Atlanta campus must enroll full-time for one academic year before becoming eligible for Curricular Practical Training.

I changed status from H-4 to F-1, when do I become eligible for CPT?

You will be eligible for Curricular Practical training after your F-1 change of status is approved or gained via travel and you’ve completed one full year of full-time enrollment inside the U.S. in any status.

How many hours am I eligible to work while on CPT?

You can engage in one of two types of CPT; either part-time CPT or full-time CPT. If you plan to work a combination of on and off-campus employment, the total number of hours will be reviewed for CPT eligibility. Please see the bullets below for the amount of hours you are eligible to work each week while authorized for the two types of CPT:

- Part-time CPT Authorization: 20 hours or less per week

- Full-time CPT Authorization: more than 20 total hours per week

If I utilize my CPT benefit, will I still be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Students who utilize full-time CPT for 11 months and 28 days or more are ineligible for post-completion Optional Practical Training. Those participating in part-time CPT or less than 11 months and 28 days of full- time CPT will not lose eligibility to participate in post-completion OPT. Part-time CPT does not currently have an impact on a student’s eligibility for OPT.

Can I participate in CPT if my employer wants me to work remotely?

Yes, students can participate in internships that allow them to participate in the experiential learning opportunity remotely as long as the employer can assess student engagement and attainment of learning objectives electronically.

How can I find out more about CPT?

If you have additional questions about CPT, you are welcome to seek additional assistance during ISSS Advising Hours Hours. https://oie.gatech.edu/isss_advising

What is the deadline to request CPT?

Typically, the deadline to complete your CPT request with Career Center is the Friday prior to the start of the term you are requesting authorization. And as a reminder, you cannot begin your experiential learning opportunity until you are approved by OIE for the CPT authorization and receive your new I-20 form. For more information on Career Center’s deadlines, please review their website: https://career.gatech.edu/.

If my CPT doesn't meet Career Center requirements or I'm unable to use CPT what are my options?

You may meet with an OIE advisor to discuss Pre-Completion OPT if you are not able to gain authorization using CPT. Pre-completion OPT takes 90 days to process with USCIS and does subtract from your total eligible Post-Completion OPT days.

What is the difference between co-ops and internships through the Career Center office?

An internship is a one semester commitment. The internship can be either part-time or full-time. Co-op is a three semester commitment with the same employer. Students alternate between work and school until they have completed three work terms. Co-op work terms are always full-time, students do not attend classes while on work rotation. Students on co-op assignment take a schedule of full-time classes following a work term. Visit the Career Center webpage for more information. http://career.gatech.edu/faq

What resources are there to help me find an experiential learning opportunity?

We recommend students use a variety of resources to enhance success in the job and internship search, such as: career fairs, employer information sessions, and online resources such as CareerBuzz. https://career.gatech.edu/employer-information-sessions  https://career.gatech.edu/campus-career-fairs

Can I accept a job offer before CPT is approved?

You can accept a job offer before your CPT is approved, but we encourage you to let your employer know that your eligibility to perform the work is contingent on the CPT approval.

Can I begin working before OIE approves my CPT?

No, it is very important that you understand the serious consequences of engaging in unauthorized work while waiting on your CPT approval. The U.S. government regulations specifically state that students must wait until they receive an I-20 with the CPT authorization and CPT authorized start date before they are eligible to begin their experiential learning opportunity. If you begin your experiential learning prior to receiving your I-20 form for CPT, prior to the date authorized for you to begin CPT, or beyond the authorized CPT end date, then you are considered to be engaging in unauthorized work within the U.S. which will result in the immediate termination of your SEVIS record. Unauthorized work within the U.S. is a serious infraction and can result in loss of future benefits or the ability to remain legally inside the U.S.

What is the process to request CPT?

Once you have received and accepted an internship or co-op offer, review the steps below to understand the steps required to apply for CPT.

1. Collect your offer letter and submit your request for internship or cooperative education experience online via CareerBuzz.

2. Once the job opportunity is reviewed and approved by Career Center, they will submit a CPT request e-form through iStart.

3. You will then receive an email with a link to complete the second and final part of the CPT request. You will be asked to verify that you understand your CPT responsibilities and to pay the $35 Practical Training Fee (PTF) https://oie.gatech.edu/isss/ptf . OIE requires all CPT requests to be initiated by Career Center no later than the Friday before classes begin of the term being requested.

4. After you complete your CPT e-form, ISSS advisors will review your CPT request within the advertised processing time normally three business days and up to five business days during high volume seasons. You will receive an email from an OIE advisor notifying you when your updated I-20 has been processed or if the ISSS advisor has more questions about the CPT request.

5. If approved for CPT, your new I-20 form with the CPT authorization will include your employer's name, address, and the specific dates of employment. Please review the I-20 form for accuracy. You can only work during the dates of employment authorized on the I-20 form. The I-20 form with the CPT authorization is proof of employment eligibility, which you must show to your new employer to complete the hiring process. You must register either for the Career Center course or with the internship required for your academic program.

How I register for my Co-op or Internship Course?

Students no longer register for the Co-op or internship courses themselves. The Registrar will register students in the appropriate course once the student is approved for CPT.

It is important that you check your course registration to be sure that you have enough space in your schedule to allow for the addition of the Co-op or Internship credits in your schedule. If the additional credits will place you over the credit maximum for the term, you will not be enrolled in the internship/co-op credits. Students who are not enrolled in internship/co-op credits are ineligible to participate in CPT.

What is the process to make updates or cancel CPT?

To extend or amend the dates of an approved CPT authorization, you must work with Career Center to submit a CPT update request through iStart. Please note the following important considerations to ensure maintenance of status and accuracy of your SEVIS record:

· If your practical training opportunity ends earlier than the authorization end date listed on page 2 of your CPT I-20 form, you should notify Career Center prior to the end of your CPT authorization. To shorten CPT authorization, you will be required to request an updated letter or email from your employer verifying your employment dates.

· To cancel a CPT authorization prior to beginning employment, you must request a letter or email from your employer verifying that you did not participate in any employment with that company. This documentation will be collected by Career Center.

· If start your Internship or Co-op and then choose to discontinue the experience, please contact OIE and Career Center to learn of your options.




Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is authorized off-campus employment and is an integral part of the degree program. At Georgia Tech, an F-1 student may be eligible for CPT based on a required internship class for academic credit toward degree completion or participation in the co-op or internship program through the Center for Career Discovery and Development (Career Center). F-1 students authorized for CPT are register for credit through Career Center or register for the internship required by their academic program.

Additional Eligibility Considerations

  • F-1 students must be enrolled full-time (12 credit hours) on the main-campus for a fall and spring semester before becoming eligible for CPT. 
    • An F-1 student who begins their academic program in a fall semester can be eligible for off-campus practical training after enrolling full-time at the main campus in fall and spring semesters.
    • An F-1 student who begins in the spring semester must enroll full-time at the main campus in spring semester and the following fall semester before becoming eligible for CPT. 
  • F-1 students may be authorized for full-time CPT or part-time CPT. 
    • CPT can be authorized as full-time (more than 20 total hours per week) for F-1 students participating in the co-op program or enrolling in a degree-required academic practicum. 
  • Students enrolled in their final semester are not eligible for full-time CPT unless they are completing a degree-required practicum or degree-required research experience. 
  • F-1 students authorized to work more than 11 months and 28 days of full-time CPT are no longer eligible for OPT. Part time CPT has no impact on eligibility for OPT.

Internship or Co-op through Career Center

CPT can be authorized when a Georgia Tech student participates in the co-op or internship program through the Center for Career Discovery and Development. More information about the co-op and internship programs can be found on the Center for Career Discovery and Development website.

Required Internship for Academic Credit

Undergraduate students majoring in Building Construction who enroll in the internship for academic credit must work with their academic advisor to submit a request for CPT. 

Graduate students majoring in City and Regional Planning or Informational Design and Technology who enroll in the internship for academic credit must work with their graduate coordinator to submit a request for CPT. 


Enrollment to Maintain F-1 Status:

  • F-1 students are required to enroll in at least 12 credit hours during their first semester of enrollment at Georgia Tech and each subsequent fall and spring semester.  
    • To meet the 12 hour minimum requirement, students must enroll in 12 hours of academic class, alternating work-study semesters which include 12 hours of co-op credit, or 6 hours of internship credit with the remaining 6 hours of academic class credit which count toward academic degree completion.  
  • Once the CPT has been authorized by the OIE, Career Center will register the student in the internship course for the appropriate term.  
  • CPT authorization can begin prior to the start of the term and continue until the day before the next available term. The student's academic progress will be monitored based on the CPT dates and grades will be adjusted after the term dates if a student fails to complete the academic work associated with an internship. 
  • All CPT requests must be submitted via iStart by Career Center by the deadline dates outlined on the Career Center website, please see graduate information here and undergraduate information here.
  • Students not enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits by the end of phase 2 registration, are in violation of their F-1 status which can result in the termination of their SEVIS records.
  • Students who lose their employment need to consult with Career Center right away. If the employment termination is determined to be due to the student's failure to meet internship and thereby academic requirements, then the student is removed from the credits. If the removal of credit hours results in less than full time enrollment, the student will be considered in violation of status. 

Tips for Obtaining CPT

1. Explore Career Center resources to find a practical training opportunity aligned with your degree program. 

2. Seek practical training opportunities in your field of study. 

3. Once you have an internship offer, submit your request for internship or cooperative education experience online via the Career Center Undergraduate Internship page here or Graduate Internship page here. The Career Center career advisers will submit a request for CPT on your behalf once your request has been reviewed and approved.

4. You will receive an email from OIE requesting that you acknowledge your responsibilities while on CPT and upload the required $35 practical fee (see below). Complete this e-form process.

5. After you've acknowledged responsibilities and paid the $35 practical training fee, OIE will process the request from Career Center within the advertised business processing time, normally three business days and up to five business days during high volume seasons. 

You will receive a new I-20 with the CPT authorization, which includes the employer's name, address and the specific dates of employment. Please review the I-20 for accuracy. In order to maintain status, you must only engage in practical training with the specific employer listed on the CPT authorization and only engage in practical training during the dates listed on your authorization. The I-20 with the CPT authorization is proof of employment eligibility, which you must show to your new employer to complete Human Resources processing and the I-9 verification required for all new employment. 

Practical Training Fee

The Office of International Education will collect a $35 fee each time an international student holding an F or J student visa receives practical training benefits in the form of Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT). Student e-forms submitted to the OIE for review after June 15, 2017 will be required to show evidence of PTF payment. Specific instructions for paying the fee will be include in the respective eform.

For more specific information about the PTF, please visit OIE's website: https://oie.gatech.edu/isss/ptf

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit of the F-1 visa program that allows you to pursue experiential learning opportunities in the U.S. that directly relates to your program of study. While an OIE Designated School Official (DSO) recommends a student for OPT, it is the student who must apply for the work permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Students can utilize this benefit once per education level once they have completed at least one year in their academic program. There are three types of OPT: pre-completion OPT, post-completion OPT, and STEM OPT extension.

There is much to know about OPT. OIE offers OPT workshops on average once a week throughout the year to help students understand the application process, status maintenance requirements, travel expectations, and more. For a schedule of our upcoming virtual workshops, as well as links to join them, please click here. You are not required to have any materials prepared for the workshop, but you are encouraged to review the required OPT guidance below prior to attending.  Please join the event at least 5 minutes prior to the start time of the workshop as once the workshop begins, the advisor will close the workshop. If you are unable to attend one of our workshops, we also offer an online version of the OPT workshop found in the following link, https://oie.gatech.edu/isss/opt.  

General OPT Eligibility Requirements:

  • Students are eligible to apply for OPT after completing one academic year of full-time enrollment in Active F-1 status. This means that if a student begins their academic program in a fall semester, they will be eligible for off-campus work after attending full-time fall and spring semesters. If a student begins in the spring semester, they must attend a full-time spring semester and the next fall semester before becoming eligible for OPT. 

  • Students are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT once per education level. 

    • Students become eligible for another 12 months of practical training upon changing to a higher education level. Students are ineligible for OPT at the lower education level after participating in practical training at a higher education level.

  • Students must first request the recommendation from OIE before mailing in their application to USCIS. Per 8 CFR 214.2(f)(11), failure to request the new I-20 with the OPT recommendation before mailing the OPT application to USCIS will most likely result in the student being denied the OPT benefit by USCIS.

  • Students can apply for the OPT benefit up to 90 days prior to their program end date and no later than 60 days after their program end date. (Students are encouraged to ensure their I-20 program end date aligns with their graduation date)

  • Student must be present and inside the U.S. in order to file their OPT application with USCIS.

  • Students that have participated in 11 months and 28 days or more of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT at that education level.

  • Students are not required to have a job offer to apply for OPT.


How to Apply for OPT:

  1. Watch and review our online OPT Workshop.

  2. Complete the OPT request form within iStart.

  3. An OIE advisor will review your request and respond to your request via email within the processing time communication here: https://oie.gatech.edu/isss/istart-help. If you are eligible to receive the OPT recommendation from OIE, the student will continue through the steps listed below.

  4. Student will collect the new I-20 form from OIE and then mail their OPT application packet to USCIS within 30 days of the recommendation.

    • We encourage you to review page 2 of the I-20 form to ensure the OPT recommendation is listed and the requested OPT dates are accurate.

  5. Gather the forms and documents listed below to compile your OPT request packet to mail to USCIS. You are also encouraged to review the I-765 form instructions to determine if any additional documents need to be submitted along with your request. 

    1. G-1145 e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. Use this form to request a text and/or email when USCIS accepts your I-765. This should be the first page of your application package.

    2. Two US-style passport photos with your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo.

    3. Original and complete I-765 form

      • Make sure you are using the most current edition of the I-765 form. To ensure you are using the correct version of the I-765 form, review the "Edition Date" under Form Details on USCIS's website: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765

      • Review USCIS's instructions on how to complete the I-765 form. You are also encourage to review OIE's additional guidance for the I-765 form. As part of your request for the OPT recommendation I-20 form, you will upload a copy of your I-765 form. OIE will review your I-765 form as part of the request and make edit suggestions

      • Do not use OIE's address as your mailing address on the I-765 application. Due to changes in office operations, until further notice OIE is unable to receive student mail. Please write in a personal mailing address on the I-765 application.

      • If applying for pre-completion OPT, use code (c)(3)(A) in line 27. If post-completion OPT, use (c)(3)(B). 

      • You are encouraged to type your answers within the I-765 PDF but you must sign the form by hand and in black ink on page 4. Electronic signatures are not accepted by USCIS.

    4. Include a check or money order for the I-765 filing fee made payable to US Department of Homeland Security. Please review USCIS’s website for the filing fee amount.

      • If paying by check, do not use a starter check which does not contain one’s name and address printed on the top left corner of the check. Be sure to sign and date the check as well as put the I-94 number in the memo/”for” section. If the address is incorrect, do not cross out and change – leave it as is.

      • Students who do not have a check with a name and address should use a money order. Make sure to write your most recent I-94 # on the Money Order. Do not write on the back of your check/money order.

      • If paying filing fee by credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover) you must complete USCIS's Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction and mail with your application.

    5. Copy of new I-20 containing your signature on page 1 and the OPT recommendation on page 2.

      • USCIS must receive your application within 30 days after you receive your recommendation for OPT.

    6. Copy of I-94 record.

    7. Copy of the most recent F-1 visa. Students who do not have an F-1 visa because of changing status in the U.S. should include a copy of the most recent visa and the I-797 verifying F-1 status approval (If you are a Canadian citizen, you may enclose a copy of your citizenship card or a birth certificate & a government-issued photo ID rather than a copy of the visa).

    8. Copy of the biographical page from your passport (with expiration date at least 6 months in the future or proof of application for a new passport).

    9. If applicable, copies of any previous I-20 forms with OPT or CPT authorizations listed. Note, your signature is expected to be listed on page 1 on all I-20 forms.

    10. If applicable, copies of any previous EAD cards for OPT

Mailing OPT Application Packet

Now that you assembled your OPT application packet, you must mail the packet to the USCIS Service Center. Remember, USCIS must receive your application within 30 days after you receive your recommendation for OPT. Please review USCIS's website: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765-addresses, to determine where to mail the OPT application packet. You are expected to use the USCIS Service Center assigned to the mailing address you provided on the I-765 form. We encourage you to purchase tracking services when mailing your packet so that you can ensure the packet is timely delivered to USCIS.

After USCIS Receives Your OPT Application

USCIS will receipt your I-765 application and notify you electronically and via regular mail service utilizing the I-797C receipt notice. You can expect to receive the paper receipt notice within 2-3 weeks of USCIS receiving your OPT request. Review your personal information listed on the receipt notice - your name and mailing address - to ensure accuracy. If you need to update information with USCIS, follow the instructions provided on the receipt notice by USCIS or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

USCIS Timing

USCIS processes most I-765 requests within 90 days of the receipt notice. While most cases are processed within 90 days, there is a chance your application could take longer. Please review USCIS’s case processing times page to find out more about the expected processing times for your application.  If you believe your case is outside normal processing time, you can submit an inquiry to USCIS regarding the status of your application. If USCIS receives your Post-Completion OPT request and needs additional information, the following may occur:

  • USCIS issues request for evidence (RFE)

    • USCIS may determine that additional information is necessary in order to adjudicate your request. USCIS will stop the processing of your application and issue a letter or RFE explaining what additional documentation is required. USCIS will communicate a deadline for when you must respond with the additional support documentation. If you do not provide the requested evidence by the deadline, USCIS will deny your OPT application. Once USCIS receives the additional information, an officer will resume the processing of your petition and the “processing clock” will resume.

  • OPT application is rejected by USCIS

    • If your application is rejected by USCIS, USCIS will return your OPT packet along with a letter explaining the reason for the rejection. In this scenario, your OPT packet will not be receipted by USCIS. Please immediately contact OIE and provide a copy of the rejection letter. OIE will assist you with understanding the reason for the rejection and provide guidance on eligibility for refiling the I-765 request. Please note, if you receive the rejection notice after your filing window for OPT, you may no longer be eligible to apply for the OPT benefit.

Maintenance of Status after USCIS Issues EAD

Maintenance of status is the responsibility of the F-1 student visa holder at all times while inside the U.S. The information below provides a reminder of some of the requirements to maintain status, but is not intended to cover every scenario. If you have a question about maintenance of status, it is your responsibility to seek out guidance from International Services or a qualified immigration attorney.

Per 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A), F-1 student visa holders may not begin Optional Practical Training (paid, unpaid, or voluntary employment) until the start date indicated on his or her employment authorization document (EAD) and until the EAD has been received by the student. Again, you cannot begin any kind of volunteering, paid employment, or unpaid employment before receiving your OPT EAD card, nor prior to the start date listed on your OPT EAD card. F-1 student visa holders in violation of 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(10)(ii)(A) are in violation of status and subject to termination of their SEVIS record. If you begin working before receiving your EAD card or before the start date listed on your EAD card, your F-1 SEVIS record will be terminated for unauthorized employment. You would then be ineligible to continue working on OPT and you would be expected to depart the U.S. immediately. Unauthorized employment also jeopardizes your eligibility for future employment benefits such as the 24-Month STEM Extension and the H-1B visa.

Once you have obtained your EAD card and you are in your authorized period of OPT employment, you are expected to work a minimum of 20 hours per week in a position related to your field of study. You have up to 90 days of unemployment starting on the approved OPT start date listed on your EAD card. If you reach the 90-day unemployment limit, you should make plans to either depart the U.S. or seek alternatives if you wish to remain inside the U.S. You are expected to report employment and changes to your information within 10 days of any change. Students that do not report their employment information will be seen as unemployed in the system. Students that accrue 90 days of unemployment will have their SEVIS records terminated automatically. Please note, since you will not be a student while on OPT, you will no longer be enrolled in an insurance plan and should seek personal medical insurance. Please see our Health Insurance after Graduation website for more information.

Reporting Requirements for Maintaining Status

When employed all students on OPT are required to report the following updates to an International Student Advisor using iStart.gatech.edu. Instructions on how to update your OPT employer information is located here. To learn what types of employment are allowed while on OPT, click here

  • Change of name (use Personal Information Update e-form through iStart)

  • Changes to U.S. and foreign addresses (use Personal Information Update e-form through iStart)

  • Name of employer, and any change of name of employer (iStart)

  • Address of employer, and any change of address of employer (iStart)

  • Interruption of such employment (iStart)

To report your employment or unemployment information, log into iStart and complete the OPT Personal Contact /  Employment Update e-form found under the OPT tab.

If you cannot log into iStart using your current Georgia Tech ID# or password please follow these instructions please see here.  If you continue to have issues please contact us at info@oie.gatech.edu.

OPT and Traveling Abroad

F-1 Regulations allow students participating in OPT to travel abroad, but there may be additional risks and/or additional documentation to prepare. Visit the OIE's OPT and Traveling Abroad website for more information.

Options After Post-Completion OPT

If you plan to depart the U.S. and DO NOT plan to return to use your OPT, complete the "End OPT" eform in iStart. The OIE will use this information to complete your SEVIS record so that you do not accrue days of unemployment.

Transferring Your SEVIS Record

If you are admitted to a U.S. institution while you are on OPT or during the 60 day grace period after your OPT, it is possible to request the transfer of your SEVIS record. Whether your record would be eligible for transfer will depend on important factors such as when you would be starting your studies at the new institution and whether you have been employed or unemployed during your OPT period. To request the transfer of your active SEVIS record, please complete the Transfer Out request within your iStart Student Portal.

Change of Status

If you are considering remaining in the U.S. during your OPT or within your 60 day grace period in another visa status, you can apply for a change of visa status under the guidance of a qualified immigration attorney. If you change visa status while on OPT, complete the "Change of Status from F-1/F-2" eform in iStart

24-Month STEM OPT Extension  

Students that have studied in a STEM eligible field, may be eligible to extend their OPT benefit for 24 months. OIE encourages you to visit our OPT STEM Resources webpage to learn more about eligibility requirements, the application process, reporting requirements, and other related aspects of the extension. Once a student's post-completion OPT end date has passed, the student is no longer eligible to apply for the OPT STEM extension.

H1B and the Cap Gap Extension

While on OPT, your employer may choose to file an H1B visa application on your behalf. If your OPT expires prior to the start of the H1B, you may eligible for the Cap-Gap Extension. The Cap Gap is a benefit that is automatically applied to students’ immigration records and will be reflected once the H1B petition is receipted by USCIS. We encourage you to visit Study in the States website to review eligibility requirements for the cap-gap. If you believe you are eligible for this benefit, complete the "Cap-Gap I-20 Request" eform in iStart .

If an H1B application is filed in your name, you are encouraged to contact us to discuss your responsibilities for maintaining your F-1 status. We also encourage you to speak with a qualified immigration attorney.  

60 Day Post-OPT Grace Period

If none of the above options are applicable to you, at the end of your OPT period, the U.S. government provides a 60-day grace period where you are eligible to remain inside the U.S. You must depart the U.S. no later than the 60th day after your OPT end date in order to avoid visa overstay penalties, as you will begin to accrue unlawful presence after the 60th day. During the 60-day grace period you are ineligible to travel internationally and re-enter on your current record.

Optional Practical Training Resources:


OIE Practical Training Fee

The Office of International Education will collect a $35 fee each time an international student holding an F or J student visa receives practical training benefits in the form of Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Academic Training (AT). Student e-forms submitted to the OIE for review after June 15, 2017 will be required to show evidence of PTF payment. Specific instructions for paying the fee will be include in the respective eform.

For more specific information about the PTF, please visit OIE's website: https://oie.gatech.edu/isss/ptf



1. What employer information do I need to report during OPT?
You should report the following information: employer name, employer address, start date of employment, and any periods of unemployment.

2. How do I report my employer information?
You will report your employment information in iStart. You can find Employer Reporting Instructions here.

3. Does my employer have to be in the E-Verify program during my 12-month standard OPT period?
No. However, to be eligible for the 24-month STEM extension your employer is required to be an E-Verify employer. For more information on the 24-month STEM OPT extension, please see our website.

4. Do I need to continue to update my personal address while on OPT?
Yes; you must continue to report any changes to your physical U.S. and foreign addresses while on OPT. This cannot be a PO Box or your company's address. Complete the Personal Information Update e-form through iStart.

5. Can I be unemployed during OPT?
Unemployment is allowable while you are on post-compleiton OPT. However, you may not accrue more than a total of 90 days of unemployment during the initial 12 months of post-completion OPT.

6. What counts as time unemployed?
Each day (including weekends) during the period when OPT authorization begins and ends that the student does not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment. OPT authorizaton begins on the employment start date shown on the student's EAD card.

7. How do I report that I am unemployed?
You report that you are unemployed in iStart. Type "Unemployed" in the "Name of Employer" field. In the "Date Employment Began" field, use your OPT start date (if you are not employed by the EAD start date) or the date you became unemployed (if you became unemployed during OPT).

8. What type of work is allowed on standard post-completion OPT and which documents should I have to prove employment?
Please see ISSS's website on what types of employment are allowable while on OPT and a list of documents that have been suggested by USCIS to prove employment.

9. My employer has asked me to take a business trip outside the US. What do I report?
You are not required to change employment information (i.e. the address) if you will take a business trip outside the US.

10. I work in one location, but my employer's office is in another location. What should I report?
Report the address of the location where you are working.

11. Will I still have health insurance through Georgia Tech?
No, you will no longer be enrolled in an insurance plan and should seek personal medical insurance. Please see our Health Insurance after Graduation website for more information.

12. What is the H-1B cap-gap extension?
The H-1B cap-gap extension allows students who have timely-filed H-1Bs to continue working or staying in the U.S. until their H-1B becomes active. Read more at our H-1B Cap-Gap Extension website.

F-1 Regulations allow students participating in OPT to travel abroad, but there may be additional risks and/or additional documentation to prepare.  OIE is unable to guarantee that students will be granted admission by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon return to the U.S or that the Consulate will renew an F-1 visa at a consulate abroad.  Although not common, there are reports of students on OPT having problems at ports of entry as well as being denied visas or experiencing significant visa delays.   The decision to travel abroad must be made by the individual student with an understanding of the preparations that should be made and the risks involved. 

Pre-completion OPT Students:

You are currently still an enrolled student so you’ll follow the same procedure for visits abroad and re-entry as enrolled F-1 students.  Additional documentation is not required for reentry beyond a valid I-20 signed for travel, unexpired passport and unexpired visa stamp.

Post-completion OPT Students:

You are eligible to travel abroad on a temporary basis (less than 5 months) and re-enter the U.S to continue employment. F-1 regulations require that the student present the following documents to CBP upon reentry: 

  1. Passport valid at least 6 months into the future from the date of reentry
  2. Valid F-1 Visa stamp
  3. I-20 containing the OPT recommendation and a travel signature less than 6 months old. Students requiring an updated travel signature should complete the “Travel Signature Request” e-form in iStart to request a new signature.
  4. Unexpired EAD work permit
  5. Proof the student is returning to resume employment. This can be in the form of a job offer letter or a letter written on letterhead from the student’s supervisor confirming employment.  However, a paystub or other documentation showing intent to return to work may be sufficient for a CBP officer.

Travel While OPT Application is Pending:

According to Student Exchange Visitor Program’s guidance, students participating in post-completion OPT may travel abroad while the OPT application is pending. However, travel during this period of time should be undertaken with caution for the following reasons:

  1. If a request for more evidence (RFE) is issued by USCIS: An RFE requires immediate attention by the applicant.
  2. If the application is approved while the applicant is abroad, the student will be required to present the EAD upon return.

Students who decide to travel while the OPT application is pending are highly discouraged from leaving the U.S until the application has been received by USCIS and the I-797 receipt notice has been issued.  Students should bring the receipt notice with them as proof that an application has been submitted. Although the receipt notice is a good substitution, admission into the U.S. is up to the discretion of the CBP officer, and there have been reports of students without their EAD work permit having problems at the port of entry.

Special Issues in Travel on OPT


Visa Renewal while on Post-Completion OPT:

OPT is a benefit of the F-1 status. Therefore, students traveling while on OPT and have an expired F-1 visa are required to apply for a new F-1 visa.  Although the U.S. consulates/embassies are permitted to grant visa renewals to students participating in OPT, these students may be subject to additional scrutiny.  The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant intent visa. Therefore, applicants are required to provide proof of “binding ties” to their home country. This may be more challenging for some students on OPT.

Procedures and requirements for visas can vary between countries and are often subject to change.  As such, reviewing the visa requirements on the website for the appropriate U.S. Embassy/Consulate is the best way to prepare you for the visa application process.  Visit www.travel.state.gov to determine the procedures for applying for a visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the country in which you’ll be traveling.

For general guidance and information on visa renewals please visit the OIE’s Visa Renewal website.

Automatic Visa Revalidation for OPT Students:

F-1 students participating in OPT traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean (except Cuba) for less than 30 days are eligible to reenter the U.S with an expired F-1 visa as long as they qualify for automatic visa revalidation.  Citizens of Syria, Sudan, Iran and Cuba do not qualify. For more information visit ICE’s Reentry for F-1 Nonimmigrants Traveling Outside the United States.

Accrual of More Than 90 Days of Unemployment’s Impact on Travel:

Students who accrue more than 90 days of unemployment while participating in post-completion OPT will likely be deemed not eligible for reentry into the U.S. by a CBP officer.  Students who have/will accrue more than 90 days of unemployment and have decided to leave the U.S. are advised to complete the “Intent to Depart/End I-20 Status” e-form in iStart.  An International Student Advisor will review the e-form and complete the SEVIS record which will stop the accrual of unemployment days and end the student’s SEVIS record.  Students are advised to leave the U.S as soon as possible after the SEVIS record is ended and will not be eligible to return to the U.S to continue to use their OPT.

Time Outside the U.S and Unemployment:

Time spent outside the U.S during a period of post-completion OPT counts as unemployment against the 90 day limit, unless the student is either:

  1. Employed during a period of leave authorized by an employer; or
  2. Traveling as part of his or her employment.
Change of Status and Travel:

Students who have/will apply for a change of status to H1B, permanent resident or any other immigration status should speak with their immigration lawyer prior to making travel plans.  Students utilizing the Cap-Gap extension should not travel abroad during the period of time between the end of the EAD and the start of the H1B unless they are eligible to return to the U.S. with the H1B visa stamp.


Click here for a comprehensive review and additional guidance related to travel.

The H-1B cap-gap extension allows F-1 students currently on post-completion OPT to continue working if they have a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting change of status and an employment start date of October 1 (the first day of the following fiscal year). An automatic cap-gap extension of an F-1 student's duration of status also applies to the duration of status of the student's dependents in F-2 status.

"Cap-gap" has become the common term used to refer to the "gap" in nonimmigrant status that occurs in a change of status to H-1B, when a student's current nonimmigrant status expires before the requested H-1B start date. For example, an F-1 student with an post-completion OPT end date of June 30 will have duration of status for 60 days beyond that, until August 30. The gap between August 30 and October 1 is a "cap-gap." 

Who qualifies for an H-1B cap-gap extension?

Students must have a timely-filed H-1B petition while the student's authorized F-1 duration of status (D/S) admission was still in effect. This includes:

1. Students working on post-completion OPT with an end date on or later than April 1 and have a timely-filed H-1B petition. Students on post-completion OPT may continue to work until 9/30 until the H1B begins on 10/1.

2. Students who are currently in their grace period with a timely-filed H-1B petition. These students may stay in the U.S. until the H-1B begins on 10/1, but are not eligible to work during this time.

The student must not have violated the terms or conditions of his or her F-1 status.

Is there an application or fee for the cap-gap extension?

No. The extension is automatically recorded on your SEVIS record.

How do I get an updated I-20 showing the cap-gap extension?

You may request a cap-gap extension I-20 from OIE to present to your employer. To request a cap-gap I-20, log into iStart and complete the Cap-Gap I-20 Request e-form. You will be required to upload a copy of a receipt notice from USCIS showing that your application was filed in a timely manner and is being adjudicated. Within five business days, an international student advisor will process your request.

Do I have to have a new I-20 showing the cap-gap extension?

No. The cap-gap extension is automatic as long as you have timely-filed H-1B petition. However, some employers request evidence of work authorization or you may be applying for benefits (i.e. renewing a drivers license) that may require a reprint.

This notice applies to all information and resource materials provided by the OIE for the domain oie.gatech.edu and for all other information provided by OIE in any media format. It is provided for informational purposes only, and is not represented to be error free, complete, accurate or current. The information contained herein is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice or legal opinions of a licensed professional. Users should contact their own personal attorney or licensed professional to obtain appropriate legal advice or other professional counseling with respect to any particular issue or problem.