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Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Pre-completion OPT allows F-1 students to obtain employment authorization and work off-campus in a job related to their field of study.


Immigration regulation makes pre-completion Optional Practical Training available to F-1 students who complete one full academic year before they earn the OPT benefit.


  • Students may file a Form I-765 for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before they have completed your first full academic year, provided that the period of employment will not start before the end of the academic year. Beyond your first year of study, it is recommended students submit their application no earlier than 90 days prior to the start date you request for your OPT.
  • If the student chooses to engage in pre-completion OPT, he or she may not work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session but may work full-time (40 hours per week) during his or her annual vacation and other times when the school is not in session.
  • If a student engages in pre-completion OPT, the student’s eligible period of post-completion OPT will be reduced by 1 month for every 2 months of part-time pre-completion OPT or 1 month for every 1 month of full-time pre-completion OPT that is worked when he or she graduates.
  • The student must continue enrolling full time throughout the time spent on pre-completion OPT. It is not possible for a student to take a break from school in order to work on pre-completion OPT.
  • The employment must be directly related to the student’s field of study.
  • Student does not need to have a pending job offer letter to apply for pre-completion OPT.
  • The student must not begin work until receipt of the Employment Authorization Card (EAC) and the start date listed.
  • If the student transfers to another college or university, the OPT is automatically terminated in SEVIS.
  • The student becomes eligible for another 12 months of OPT if the student begins a new academic program at a college or university.
  • If a student falls out-of-status, the OPT is automatically terminated.

Student requirements while on OPT

The Student on OPT is required to report to the Director of Admissions any change of name or address, change of employer name or address or any interruption of such employment within 10 days. Fill out the Post-completion OPT Employment Information Form (point to forms page, see text field above) and e-mail this to the Director of Admissions.

Pre-Completion OPT Application Process

Step One: Determine eligibility and make an appointment to apply for OPT

  • Make an appointment with the Director of Admissions by contacting [email protected] or call (501) 812-2230.

Step Two: Gather required documents

  • Bring the following documents to the meeting with the Director of Admissions:
  • A copy of your current I-20 Form
  • A copy of all previous SEVIS I-20 forms with Curricular Practical Training (CPT) (if applicable).
  • Current Passport
  • A copy of current I-94 card.
  • Completed Form I-765. Download the form, print and fill it out; do not E-file this form.
  • Check or money order for the $410 I-765 application fee. Make this payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.
  • Completed G-1145 Delivery Confirmation Form.
  • Two passport photos with students name printed on the back.
  • Read and sign the “OPT Regulatory Commitment Form”.

Step Three: OPT application meeting

  • At the meeting with the Director of Admissions, the following will be completed:
  • Application and documents will be reviewed for accuracy and any student questions will be answered. Copies of any documents that need to be made will be done at this time.
  • The Director of Admissions will create a new SEVIS I-20 form which includes a recommendation for pre-completion OPT.
  • The student will be supplied with a cover letter, mailing envelope and the address to mail the completed application to USCIS.

Step Four: Mailing application and required documents

The student will mail the following items to the address provided by the Director of Admissions. It is strongly recommended this be sent using Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation or using certified or registered mail (this enables the student to confirm delivery through the United States Postal Service website.

  • Printed Cover Letter (point to forms page, see text field above)
  • I-765 Application with two photos stapled to the form.
  • Check or Money Order for $410 payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.
  • A copy of the new signed SEVIS I-20 Form including all three pages (the student will keep the original SEVIS I-20 form.
  • Photocopy of passport photo page including expiration date.
  • Photocopy of front and back of the I-94 card.
  • Completed copy of G-1145 Form.

Step Five: Approval Process

  • By submitting the G-1145 form, the student should receive a text message or e-mail notification that the package arrived at the USCIS Lockbox facility.
  • The student receives an official receipt (I-797C Notice of Action) in about 2 weeks. The receipt number (SRC# or EAC#) on the top corner of this form can be used to track the progress of your case from the USCIS website.
  • Normal processing times are from 50 – 75 days. If the student has not received any adjudicating (decision-making) documentation from the Service Center in more than 90 days from the official receipt date, contact the Director of Admissions for assistance.

Step Six: After Receiving Your OPT approval

  • The student will receive an Employment Authorization Card (EAC). A clear copy of this card needs to be e-mailed to the Director of Admissions upon receipt.