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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 mailing the documents back to you, 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: Pay the OPT Maintenance of Status Fee

Before proceeding with preparing your documents, you must pay the OPT Maintenance of Status Fee.

View the tutorial on how to pay the OPT Maintenance of Status fee.

When you proceed to the respective links below for payment, please click the grey 'Sign In' button at the bottom of the payment page to sign in with your Fordham credentials. DO NOT make a new account. We suggest that you read the tutorial before paying to ensure that there are no issues with your payment process, which could be either delaying your application or cause multiple payments.

Fall 2020 (December) Graduates

GBA Maintenance of Status Fee for OPT Fall 2020 (December) Graduates
Non-GBA Maintenance of Status Fee for OPT Fall 2020 (December) Graduates

Click GBA if you are graduating from Gabelli Business School - Graduate Division.

Click Non-GBA if you are graduating from any other school at Fordham (including Gabelli School of Business - Undergraduate Division).

It is very important that you complete this step first, otherwise we will be unable to process your application for you.

Please print and keep a copy of your OPT Fee Confirmation page available for reference, and bring it with you when you come to OIS for an appointment to prepare your application.

Step 2: Follow the OPT Application Guidelines in the Payment Confirmation Email from OIS

Upon your payment, you should receive a Payment Confirmation email from ois@fordham.edu with the subject line “Thank You for Paying Your OPT Maintenance of Status Fee & Next Steps."

Download and read our OPT application guidelines that you will receive in the Payment Confirmation email.

As directed in the OPT application guidelines in the email, you will have your advisor (graduate students) or class dean (undergraduate students) fill out the Certification of Completion of Studies Form.

You will also need to have two recent passport photos for application, according to the guidelines. You can typically get these pictures taken at any CVS or Kinkos. Another very important item you need is a check or money order to pay USCIS for your OPT application processing fee.

Step 3: Prepare and Submit Documents via Online Remote OPT Submission Portal

All OIS Appointments Cancelled In Wake of Coronavirus, Remote OPT Document Submission In Effect Immediately

Updated March 11, 2020

As you may know, the university took the significant step of suspending face-to-face instruction on all Fordham’s New York-area campuses because the university wants to reduce potential pathways for community spread of COVID-19 on campus. The University will also curtail some on-campus operations and redirect specific personnel to work remotely rather than coming to campus. As of this moment, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Fordham.

Given the current situation, OIS will be moving toward the "work remotely" option and will be suspending in person appointments for the time being. However, please note that we will still be providing services remotely to meet the needs of the international students. More information from the Director will be coming forward.

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

Online Remote OPT Portal

To access the Online Remote Portal: Please sign into your Fordham email, otherwise you will not be able to access the form. The form must verify that you are a Fordham student. Please also use private browsing or an incognito window if you have another personal Gmail account signed into your browser, since most likely, any other Gmail account that is not your Fordham email will override your permission settings for viewing the form.

OIS advisors will be reviewing and handling these cases as soon as possible.

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.

Once you apply online, and pay for the shipping option, we will notify you once your prepared OPT application package is in the mail to you, which you will send to USCIS.

Let OIS know if you have any more questions.

Please Note: If you are paying the OPT Maintenance of Status Fee through a different method or are having trouble with payment, please contact OIS regarding this at ois@fordham.edu. The subject line of your email to should list “Your Family Name, Your First Name, Fordham ID Number - OPT Maintenance of Status Fee Issue”.

Any additional questions regarding the OPT application process can be messaged to ois@fordham.edu.

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 your 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 ois@fordham.edu so our office can make a direct inquiry with USCIS.