Optional Practical Training (OPT) Before Completion of Degree Requirements
Employment related to your field of study
before completion of all degree requirements. It is also referred to
as Pre-completion OPT. OPT is authorized by USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration
Services) through the issuance of an EAD card (Employment Authorization
Document). OPT is permitted for a period of up to a maximum of twelve
months per educational level (Bachelors, Masters, etc.).
Pre-completion OPT can be authorized under any of the following conditions:
- Following completion of all degree requirements except the thesis or equivalent
- During the annual vacation
- Part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic year
Eligibility: You must meet all of the following conditions:
- Must be a registered student in F-1 status physically in the United States at the time of application
- Must have been enrolled-recognized degree or certificate program in lawful student status on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year
- Have not used twelve months full-time curricular practical training
Procedure: Obtaining authorization for OPT is a 3-step process:
- Complete required application documents and submit to ISSO either in person or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The ISSO will review your application and issue you an I-20 with OPT recommendation.
- Mail a complete OPT application to USCIS
To learn more about pre-completion OPT, including the process to apply and general requirements, please view our PDF format slides of the PowerPoint presentation at F-1 Employment Before Graduation PowerPoint Slides.
Apply not more than 90 days prior to being enrolled for one full academic year AND not more than 90 days prior to the requested employment start date that you select
Example: A student is in a two year program and has almost completed
her first academic year. She wants to work in the summer and would
like to start June 1st. The earliest she can apply is March 3rd, which is 90 days before the June 1st OPT start date and within 90 days of the end of the academic year in mid-May.
Note: Any part-time
OPT that is granted will be deducted from your total 12 months of OPT at half the rate. For example, 4 months of Part-time OPT will be counted as 2 months.
You should apply for OPT as early as is permitted because approval of your application
by USCIS may require 6 to 12 weeks. You may not begin employment until
you have the EAD in hand and you can only work during the time period
indicated on the EAD.
How to Apply
Step 1: Submit the documents listed below to email@example.com as a single PDF file attachment
Email instructions: Scan your documents into ONE file in PDF format only. Submissions in any other format will not be accepted and reviewed. Do not send individual files (I-765 as one file, OPT request form as another file, etc.). Do not take photos with your phone and send .jpeg or .tiff files. Do not email a link to Dropbox, Google Drive or any other cloud site. You will receive an automated reply from the ISSO confirming that your email was received. This email address is only for document submission. We do not reply to any messages included with your documents or to any other messages sent to this email address. Do not send your documents to any other email address; they will not be accepted and reviewed
Required application documents:
- I-765 Form
- OPT Recommendation Request Form
- I-94 from the electronic I-94 web site at "https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov
- If you applied for OPT before, send copies of any previously issued EAD cards
- Complete the fillable I-765 Form. We recommend typing it. Be sure to enter your name EXACTLY as it is in your passport.
Print it and sign it in BLUE ink only, making sure not to write outside the allotted area. Scan and email a copy of the signed form along with the necessary documents to ISSO. USCIS has some helpful form completion and filing tips on their website at http://www.uscis.gov/lockboxtips.
We strongly recommend that your I-765 be submitted in paper form. Submitting the I-765 as an online web-based form requires submission of biometrics after your application has been received by USCIS.
- On the top of
the I-765, before question 1, you must check the correct box for "I
am applying for: Permission to Accept Employment"
If you do not check the box, USCIS will return your application
- Question 3,
Address. The address you put on the I-765 has to be valid up to 4 months from the time you mail the application. An "undeliverable" address is a major source of problems with OPT applications.
If you are using the address of a friend, your name should be indicated somewhere on the mail box. If the mail carrier does not recognize your name, the envelope with the EAD card will be returned to USCIS. Use "C/O" (care of) the name of your friend in the address to help avoid confusion. You may need to hand-write this address as the I-765 does not have enough room to enter it on the online form. Use the format below:
c/o [your friend's name]
5 Apple Street, #2D
New York, NY 12345
- Question 10:
Enter your 11-digit I-94 number retrieved from the electronic I-94 web site at http:www.cbp.gov/I94.
- Question 11: Only check “Yes” if you have ever received an EAD.
- Question 16: The code for pre-completion OPT is (c)(3)(A).
- Question 17: Leave blank as it does not apply to pre-completion OPT.
- Complete page 1 of the OPT Recommendation Request Form. You must fill in your requested employment start and end dates. These dates cannot be changed after the application has been processed.
Step 2: The ISSO will review your application and issue you an I-20 with OPT recommendation.
- The ISSO recommendation takes 10 business days
- We will notify you by email when your new I-20 is ready to pick up.
Step 3: Mail your OPT Application to USCIS:
- It is ESSENTIAL that the USCIS Service Center receives your application within 30 days of the date that the OPT I-20 is issued. If it is not received within 30 days of the issuance date, your application will be denied by USCIS and your $380 fee will not be returned or refunded to you.
Remember to sign and date the new I-20 in BLUE ink only! (section 11) Your application will be returned for an unsigned I-20, an unsigned check or an unsigned I-765 form.
- Photocopy the entire application before you send it so that you have a complete copy for your records.
- Send your application to the USCIS by a courier service such as FedEx to provide
you with proof that your application was timely in the event that the application is lost.
- All applications must either be filed at the USCIS Dallas or USCIS Phoenix Lockbox facilities. Students who list a mailing address on the I-765 in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania must send the application to:
If you use a mailing address in another state, go to Lockbox Addresses on the USCIS I-765 site to find out where to file your application.
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Priority Mail Express
Courier service (FedEx, UPS)
|PO Box 660867
|Dallas, TX 75266
||2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business
||Lewisville, TX 75067
OPT Application Checklist
Completed Form I-765 - Original-NO PHOTOCOPIES. We strongly recommend completing the fillable pdf online at
This form should be on the top of your application if you want USCIS to notify you by email and/or text message that they have accepted your application.
- Form G-1145