F-1 Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Quick Information & Links

Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an authorization that allows F-1 students to work off campus in a position directly related to their field of study during their program of study. OPT is an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the degree program to off-campus positions in their major field.


  • Complete the required Pre-Completion Practical Training (OPT)* module and quiz in Canvas. A 100% score is required as proof of completion. Once you finish the quiz and have the results, click on Grades and then click the Print icon in the top right corner to download the Grade Report as a PDF.
    • *Note: OGS offers in-person workshops on these topics, but they do not satisfy the requirement of familiarizing oneself with an authorization prior to requesting it. These remain a useful forum to explore complex questions and scenarios.
  • Full-time status for one full academic year
  • Good academic standing
  • No job offer letter required
  • F-1 students are eligible 12 months total OPT at each degree level
  • Work permitted up to 20 hours per week during academic year
  • Work permitted full time during official university breaks and vacations
  • All employment must be directly related to the major field of study

  • Review the Pre-Completion OPT FAQs for help in choosing start dates and other questions about OPT before submitting your request.
  • Complete the OPT Request Form (PDF).
  • Download your most recent I-94 Record.
  • Pre-Completion OPT Quiz results.
  • Submit the completed OPT Request Form, I-94 Record, and Pre-Completion OPT Quiz results to your IS Advisor (in-person submissions are not accepted).
  • Within 3-5 business days, OGS will recommend OPT and issue a new Form I-20 to be included in the USCIS OPT application. Incomplete letters will delay I-20 issuance.

Application Checklist:

  • Filing Fee: Personal check (sample [PDF]), cashier’s check, money order, or Form G-1450 for debit/credit card payment. Find the current fee amount on the Form I-765 website.
    • OGS has observed an unexpectedly high number of rejected card payments and recommends using another payment method if possible. If paying by card, refer to the USCIS Instructions for Form G-1450 and the USCIS Pay With a Credit Card website. Applicants using a non-card payment method must not submit Form G-1450. 
    • Note: USCIS planned to publish a new edition of Form I-765 and increase the filing fee from $410 to $550 on October 2, 2020. However, on September 29, 2020, a federal judge temporarily blocked the implementation of these changes. Until the changes go into effect, applicants should continue to use the 8/25/2020 edition of Form I-765 and pay the $410 filing fee. Because OGS cannot predict whether or when the new fee and new form edition will go into effect, applicants must carefully confirm the current filing fee and form edition when mailing their application to USCIS. Applicants can print the I-765 website on the day of mailing to include in the application packet as evidence of correct payment. OGS is tracking these developments on the NAFSA website, which was updated marginally sooner than the USCIS website after the September 29 decision.
  • Two passport photos taken within 30 days (Write your name and SEVIS ID Number on the back with pencil.)
  • Form G-1145 (Strongly Recommended E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance)
  • Form I-765 See OPT FAQs for general instructions and OGS Sample I-765 (PDF) for details.
  • Copy of new Form I-20 (with OPT recommendation on page 2)
  • Copies of all previous Form I-20s 
  • Copies of previous Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), if any.
  • Copy of passport biographic page.
  • Copy of F-1 Visa.
  • Copy of most recent I-94 Record.
  • Make a copy of the entire application to keep for your personal records before mailing to USCIS.
  • Sign up for Informed Delivery with U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for advanced warning on when to expect the EAD card to be delivered after it has been shipped by USCIS.
  • Submit OPT Application to USCIS by mail (do not use the online form).
    • OGS recommends sending the application via a courier service with shipment tracking (e.g. FedEx, UPS, USPS Priority Mail) in order to secure proof of timely delivery.

Deadline: Your application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the IS Advisor signature on the Form I-20 recommending Pre-Completion OPT or it will be denied. If you think your application may not arrive before this deadline, email your IS Advisor for a new I-20 prior to mailing.

Wait – application processing takes an average of 90 days! Once an application has been receipted and assigned a case number by USCIS, applicants may check the USCIS online case status for updates

USCIS will mail communications to the address listed on your Form I-765 after you have submitted your application. You should receive a receipt from USCIS within 2 weeks of submitting your application. Check your receipt notice for errors – especially errors related to your name and date of birth. Please watch your mail closely and notify your IS Advisor of any additional requests from USCIS immediately.

Remember that while the application is pending:

  • You may not legally begin working or volunteering for the organization that offered you the position.
  • We do not recommend changing your address. If you must, notify USCIS immediately, as the U.S. Post Office will not forward Government mail to another address.
  • You will not be able to renew your driver’s license until you have the EAD.
  • Consider signing up for USPS Informed Delivery to digitally preview your daily mail.

Change of Address:

USCIS encourages applicants to report a change of address within 10 days of relocation using the USCIS Change of Address Information procedures. Students should also file an online change of address with the postal service on the USPS website.

USCIS will destroy EAD cards returned as undeliverable by USPS after 60 business days if USCIS is not contacted by the student to correct the address. USPS is barred from forwarding USCIS mail to another address.

Students who have already submitted the OPT application to USCIS and will depart the home address used on the I-765 before the EAD card arrives should take the following actions:

Email the below information to your IS Advisor (new window) for each paid and unpaid position you hold during this authorization. 

  • Scan/photo of both front and back of EAD card
  • Employer name
  • Employer address
  • Employment dates
  • Explanation of direct relationship to your major (undergraduates) or degree (graduate students)

Questions about the OPT application materials or process?

View the Frequently asked questions