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Optional Practical Training

New OPT Maintenance of Status Fee

Updated February 11, 2020

During your studies as an F-1 student at Fordham University, you received a fee $120 per year for the purposes of maintaining your status, funding programming and providing additional staffing at OIS. Once you complete your studies, such charges stop, but, as you know, if you apply for OPT after graduation you remain under our F-1 sponsorship and continually receive our services. Currently at OIS, we serve more F-1 students receiving OPT benefits than our entire current international undergraduate population.

As a consequence of this increased demand for services, starting February 18, 2020, we will introduce a new OPT Maintenance of Status Fee to enhance our staff and services responding to the great expansion of our international population and provide advising to you in a complex and dynamic regulatory environment. As of February 18, 2020, OIS will implement this OPT Maintenance of Status Fee at the following rates:

  • $120 for at the time of application for OPT
  • $180 for STEM OPT at the time of a requested STEM extension

Thank you for your understanding and support.

General Information and Requirements

To be eligible for this employment authorization you must have been in F-1 student status for one academic year. A job offer is not required to be eligible to apply for optional practical training. You are eligible for a total of twelve months of full-time optional practical training. You may apply for periods of practical training before completion of studies, save the total twelve month period to be used after completion of studies, or use a combination of both. Such employment may be full-time or part-time, and it may take place at any location in the United States, but it must be directly related to your major field of studies.

Any periods of optional practical training used before completion of studies will be deducted from the total twelve-month period available. For example, if you worked full-time for two months during a summer vacation, you would only have ten months of practical training available after graduation. You may become eligible for another twelve months of practical training when you change to a higher educational level. To be eligible to apply for F-1 optional practical training before completion of studies you must:

  • Have been in lawful full-time student status for one academic year prior to completion of studies
  • Have optional practical training time remaining

You may use optional practical training before completion of studies during any of the following periods:

  • Full-time during annual summer vacation periods
  • Part-time (up to 20 hours per week) while school is in session
  • Full-time after completion of all courses, but prior to thesis defense or equivalent

To be eligible to apply for F-1 optional practical training after completion of studies you must:

  • Have been in lawful full-time student status for one academic year prior to completion of studies
  • Apply for the practical training no later than your date of completion of studies
  • Have optional practical training time remaining

Your application can be submitted up to 90 days before your completion date on your I-20, and up to 60 days after the degree completion date.

Please also note that F-1 students must be in the United States to apply and submit an application for OPT.

How to Apply for OPT

Please note that upon your submission of your application documents to OIS for processing, the entire remote OPT application process from (1) your submission to us, to (2) us reviewing your submitted documents to give you next steps, to (3) you taking action on the documents and mailing the final packet to USCIS, takes approximately three weeks. Therefore, it is important to submit your documents allowing at least three weeks for you to receive them and mail them to USCIS. Do not wait until the last minute to apply, otherwise it is not guaranteed that you will be able to submit the documents within the timeframe for OPT eligibility.

Step 1: Enter Information, Prepare and Submit Documents via Online Remote OPT Submission Portal, and Pay Maintenance of Status Fee

If you are applying for OPT, please access the online remote OPT Portal for document submission here:

Please note that the Portal page below incorrectly displays the title "Graduate Program Application." To all OPT applicants (undergraduates and graduates), please disregard this title. The Portal link is correct, and you will be able to use it to start your OPT Application.

Additionally, if you have ever applied to an academic program before at Fordham, please use that email to create your OPT application account.

Online Remote OPT Portal

You will be prompted to enter pertinent information for your application, send a Certificate of Completion request to your Academic Advisor/Class Dean, and submit the necessary documents for us to review. You will be able to save your application progress and continue the application if you need to finish at a later time.

OIS advisors will be reviewing and handling these cases as soon as possible. Your application documents must be complete for us to begin action on your case, so please make sure to submit all requested documents in the application portal.

Please note that F-1 students must be in the United States to apply and submit an application for OPT, as listed under the Eligibility Requirements for OPT.

Step 2: Wait for OIS to Review Submitted Documents and Give You Next Steps

Once you submit all of your documents via the portal and pay the fee, you will receive a message from the application platform via email saying that you have finished the document submission process.

OIS advisors will be reviewing applications received as soon as possible. Due to volume, please allow 10-14 business days for an advisor to get back to you with feedback. OIS will notify you by email once your prepared OPT application package is ready, and an advisor will provide next steps.

Please Note: If you are having technical issues with the application portal, please contact OIS regarding this at The subject line of your email to should list “Your Family Name, Your First Name, Fordham ID Number - OPT Application Issue”.

Any additional questions regarding the OPT application process can be messaged to

After You Have Applied for OPT

Within one month of your application, a receipt (I-797C, Notice of Action) will arrive at our OIS office from USCIS. We will contact you with the case number and tracking information so you can check the status of your application online.

After You Receive Your Receipt

Check your OPT Application Case Status Online

An OPT application normally takes about 3-5 months to get approved by USCIS, starting from the date USCIS receives an application. Consequently, OIS encourages students to apply for OPT as early as possible and remain patient during the waiting period.

However, if you have been waiting for over 4 months to receive your card, you may make an E-Request on the USCIS website to check your case status.

Carefully follow our E-Request Tutorial to let USCIS know that your case is outside the normal processing time. Please note that this does not guarantee a response, nor does it expedite the process.

If your case has been pending for over 5 months, please contact OIS at so our office can make a direct inquiry with USCIS.