Frequently Asked Questions

The U.S. Postal Service will not forward mail from USCIS if the address on the envelope does not match the name on the mailbox. Please make arrangements to be able to receive your EAD card from the address you listed on your I-765.

Approximately three months from the date USCIS receives your application, though it can be faster depending on the time of year.

The answer depends on your situation. If you were issued a new I-20 with the OPT recommendation but have not yet mailed your application to USCIS, you must notify an international student advisor of your change in plans. We can cancel the OPT recommendation.

If you have already mailed your application to USCIS, a request can be submitted to USCIS to halt processing. Your application fee will not be returned and we cannot guarantee that your request will be honored. If you have received your EAD card and wish to cancel authorization, contact an international student advisor. Cancellation in this situation is highly unlikely. OPT application are not meant to be cancelled.

Unfortunately it is difficult to estimate. The authorization depends on when the application arrives and the workload at USCIS. If they process your application after your requested start date, they might defer the start date to their day of processing, up to 60 days after your program end date. However, there is no way to predict which date it will be.

Approximately two-to-three weeks after USCIS receives your application. You might verify with your bank whether your check has been cashed. If so, the NOA is likely on the way.

In the past, students were able to apply for a temporary EAD card if their application was pending for more than 90 days. Processes have changed, and temporary EADs are no longer issued.

If you lose your card, you must apply and pay for a replacement. Complete a new I-765 Form and resubmit it to USCIS with all supporting documents, including the fee. Contact an international student advisor for an updated I-20. We recommend you keep your EAD at home (not in your wallet) because of the expense and time in applying for a replacement.

You can apply for either pre-completion OPT or post-completion OPT. There are advantages and disadvantages to consider when deciding which option works best for you. Here is an overview. We recommend you schedule an appointment with an international student advisor to further discuss your options.

Pre-completion OPT

Pre-completion OPT is only valid while you are a student finishing your thesis or dissertation. The OPT start and end date must fall before your I-20 expires and before you graduate.

Pros:

  • You are not subject to the 90-day unemployment limit.
  • Your I-20 can be extended if you need more time to complete your thesis/dissertation.

Cons:

  • If you graduate, you must submit a separate post-completion OPT application and another application fee.
  • There is the risk of a gap in employment authorization if you must submit a second OPT application and the timing is not perfect.
  • It is challenging to take advantage of the full 12 months of OPT allotted to you because of the dual applications.
  • You must continue to register full-time (which may or may not be a requirement from your department depending on your funding and/or defense semester.)
Post-completion OPT

Post-completion OPT can begin either while you complete your thesis/dissertation or after you graduate. Procedurally, however, the OPT start date can only fall after the I-20 end date, so your I-20 will be shortened to the end of the semester in which you complete face to face coursework.

Pros:

  • You will only submit one application and fee.
  • You are not required to register for the purpose of maintaining F1 status (though you must consult your department about Graduate School registration requirements depending on your funding, defense semester, and ability to apply for on-leave status).

Cons:

  • You are subject to the 90-day unemployment limit, an added pressure if you still need to focus on your thesis/dissertation.
  • The I-20 cannot be extended. If you do not complete your thesis/dissertation within the year, your F-1 status ends when the OPT expires, and you must travel and reenter with a new I-20 to continue your studies.

Contact

573.986.6863
international@semo.edu
International Village

International Education and Services
One University Plaza, MS 2040
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701

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