Skip to content Skip to navigation

Pre-completion OPT

Pre-completion OPT is employment authorization prior to graduation. All OPT must be endorsed by Bechtel International Center and approved by USCIS. It takes 5-10 business days for Bechtel to endorse your OPT I-20 and 90 or more days for USCIS to adjudicate your application. If approved, USCIS says it can take up to 30 days to receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD); however, we find 5-10 business days to be more common. You must have your EAD before you can begin work.

Students must apply for post-completion OPT in order to work after graduation.

Pre-completion OPT can be authorized for part-time or full-time work.

Part-time Optional Practical Training (20 hrs. or less) is deducted from the available Optional Practical Training at one-half the full-time rate. The total amount of time of on and off campus work when school is in session should not exceed 20 hours a week.

Full-time work authorization is only permissible during official school breaks and vacation/summer quarter. Full-time pre-completion OPT for summer quarter can be endorsed to begin as early as a day after the final exam date of spring quarter and no later than a day before the start date of fall quarter.

Students on fellowship may be restricted in participation in pre-completion OPT. Please consult with your department. 

Students on a 50% RA/TA ship are considered to be working 20 hours a week and are ineligible for pre-completion OPT during the academic year.

PhD students who have completed their coursework except for thesis (TGR) are eligible for full-time employment under pre-completion OPT during the academic term but are required to enroll in course 801/802. PhD students should also check with departmental policy before applying for pre-completion OPT.

  1. Submit the on-line application in Axess no earlier than 100 days before your employment start date.  Pre-Completion OPT application instructions
  2. Submit your application to USCIS.

***** Tips for filling out I-765 can be found here.*****

USCIS will be releasing a new edition of the I-765 on Oct. 2, 2020. Use the Form I-765 edition dated 08/25/20 if  your application is postmarked before Oct. 2, 2020. Only use the Form I-765 edition dated 10/02/20 if your application is postmarked on or after Oct. 2, 2020.

USCIS has increased the OPT filing fee to $550 effective Oct. 2, 2020. Any application postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new fee amount.

USCIS will accept applications as early as 90 days prior to the proposed start date of employment providing you have completed one full academic year. A first-year student may apply up to 90 days before she/he completes a full academic year.