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.

Application

  • 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.

Applicants must choose whether to file Form I-765 by mail or online.

  • Filing online results in faster issuance of the case receipt number.
  • USCIS processing time for final adjudication is the same for both filing methods.
  • Applicants must not mix filing methods; duplicate applications may be denied.
  • Documentation requirements differ slightly for each filing method.
    • If filing online, document files must be in JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, or TIFF format. Ensure the images are clear and readable. Do not encrypt or password-protect files.
    • If filing by mail, make photocopies of your passport, visa, Form I-20(s), and previous EAD(s) to submit with your application.

The following documentation is required to apply for this authorization:

  • Both filing methods have the same deadline: OGS must first issue the Form I-20 recommending OPT, and USCIS must receive your application no later than 30 days after OGS’s dated signature on page 1. Applications received after the deadline are denied. Avoid risk of missing the filing deadline and request a new Form I-20 from OGS if necessary.
  • Applicants should keep evidence of the exact documentation submitted to USCIS. If filing by mail, make a copy of all application materials. If filing online, take screenshots of all information entered and documentation  uploaded before final submission.
  • If filing by mail, find the applicable USCIS Lockbox address.
    • OGS recommends saving tracking confirmation of timely delivery.
  • If filing online, create or sign into your USCIS account.
    • Select: Application for Employment Authorization (I-765).
      • Complete and review all applicable sections; read and sign the applicant’s agreement; digitally sign your application; pay the fee and submit.
    • There may be a one-day delay before payment is processed. Submit your application before the deadline to ensure the application is received on time.
    • OGS cannot help troubleshoot technical issues with online filing.

How to Create an USCIS Online Account

  • Read the OGS Pre-Completion OPT FAQs for advice on how to handle issues that might occur during the pendency of the OPT application.
  • Sign up for U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Informed Delivery for advance notice of mail from USCIS.
  • USCIS confirms receipt of mailed applications by issuing Form I-797C. Verify all information on this notice is correct; contact OGS if you find any mistakes.
  • Monitor your application via the USCIS Case Status website. Average processing time is 90 days, and status may not change from received for most of the pendency.
  • Do not begin any paid/unpaid training activities until you receive the EAD and reach the start date printed on the card.
  • Contact OGS if you receive any USCIS correspondence other than confirmation of receipt/approval.
  • Prepare to receive your EAD card via USPS Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery.

Email the below information to your IS Advisor (new window) (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