Paper OPT STEM Application Tips

As you work to compile your OPT STEM application, please review the tips, listed below, for each document included in your application. Put the documents in the order they appear on the OPT STEM Checklist. Be sure that all documents are single-sided.



  • Make payment for $410.00.
  • Make payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Check the date for accuracy (for example 2020 NOT 2019). Write the date in mm/dd/yyyy.
  • If your address is incorrect, cross off the address listed. In the space next to it, write the correct address in small print.
  • On the memo line, write “I-765” followed by your SEVIS number.
  • Sign the check.


Two U.S. Passport Photos

  • These should have been taken in the past 30 days.
  • The background should be white and have no shadow.
  • Check the U.S. Department of State website for more rules regarding passport photos.
  • On the back, write your name and SEVIS number in black ink. Write lightly so that you do not pierce the photos and the writing is not visible from the front.


Form I-765

  • Please review the I-765 Guide for detailed guidance on how to complete the form. 
  • Make sure that you are using the correct edition of Form I-765
    • Caution: I-765 is updated regularly. Make sure you are using the current edition of the I-765 before mailing your application. 
    • Edition date can be found on the bottom left of Form I-765
  • Type your answers on the document. If you cannot type in certain fields, handwrite in black ink.
  • Print the document single-sided.
  • Check that you have signed and dated where appropriate. Electronic signatures are not permitted. 
  • Include all 7 pages of Form I-765. Application will be rejected if pages are missing.
  • Make sure you are using the most up-to-date edition of the Form I-765.



  • This form allows for electronic updates regarding your application. Complete the form for accuracy.


Copy of Signed OPT STEM Recommendation I-20

  • Sign and date I-20 preferably in blue ink.
  • Check the date for accuracy (for example 2020 NOT 2019). Write the date in mm/dd/yyyy.
  • Check the employment details for accuracy. If not accurate, email your International Student Adviser.
  • Include a copy of the I-20. Do not send the original I-20 to USCIS.


Most Recent I-94


Copy of Passport

  • Include copy of passport page that shows your passport number and passport expiration date.


Copy of Visa

  • Include copy of most recently issued F-1 visa.


Copy of Previous OPT Recommendation I-20s

  • Include a copy of the OPT I-20 that shows the OPT status as “requested.”


Copy of Previous EADs from USCIS

  • Include both the front and back copy of the employment authorization document (EAD).


Copy of ISU Transcript

  • Include an official transcript. You can request a paper or PDF version in Accessplus through the Office of the Registrar.
  • If transcript does not show that your degree has been conferred, work with your department to get a letter showing completion of coursework.


Copy of Diploma (optional)

  • Include a copy of  diploma, if earned.


Documentation Showing Completion of Coursework

  • If you are a graduate student who has not yet defended, work with your department to get a letter that states that you have completed all coursework for your degree program.


Letter from Employer

  • This letter should include your job title, start date, number of hours per week, E-Verify number, and any other employment detail relevant to the OPT STEM application.