OPT Application Instructions

Application Instructions

  1. Review the OPT Tutorial for a complete overview of the process.
  2. Fill out the OPT I-20 Request Form and have it signed by your Academic Advisor before submitting to Berkeley International Office.
  3. Review the OPT Application Checklist (at bottom right) for a quick review of what you need to mail to the USCIS.

Application Deadlines

  • The earliest you can apply is 90 days before your program completion date (see below for definition).
  • The USCIS will accept your application within 60 days after your program completion date.
  • OPT applications must be submitted to USCIS within 30 days after receiving the OPT I-20 from the Berkeley International Office. 

What is Your Completion Date?

For OPT purposes, this is the day you complete your final degree requirements:

  • Undergraduate Students-
    The program completion date is the last day of the semester the degree requirements are fulfilled.
  • Graduate Students-
    The program completion date is the day on which all degree requirements are fulfilled, such as filing your thesis or dissertation in the Graduate Division. If you do not have a research component to your degree program (such as in the MBA program or other professional schools), your completion date would be the last day of final exams of the semester your degree requirements are fulfilled.

SHIP / Health Insurance Eligibility on OPT

Students who complete a program of study are no longer eligible to purchase the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). The Tang Center has information about insurance plans that can be purchased after graduation.

17-Month Extensions of OPT

Students who have received a U.S. Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in a  STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, are eligible for a one-time, 17-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 29 months). See the web pages on the 17-month Extension for more information.