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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.

WARNING:  If you apply for pre-OPT and you decide to graduate earlier, and then try to apply for post-OPT with overlapping dates, you will forfeit your ability to apply for post-OPT!

Applying for Pre-Completion OPT

  1. Submit the  request for the OPT I-20 in Bechtel Connect no earlier than 100 days before your employment start date. 
  2. Begin your application using the USCIS Checklist (pdf)

         - How to file OPT online
         - Link to online I-765

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

The new USCIS fee due to go into effect on Oct 2, 2020 has been put on hold.  For now, please continue to pay the fee of $410.

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.

OPT Premium Processing (form I-907)

USCIS is now accepting Premium Processing requests for form I-765 for OPT and OPT STEM Extensions. USCIS will process your OPT/STEM I-765 request within 30 days of the completed I-907 form submission. You may file Form I-907 online via your USCIS account.

  • Beginning March 6, 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed for F-1 students who already have a pending Form I-765 for OPT or OPT STEM Extension.
  • Beginning April 3, 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for F-1 students when filed together with Form I-765 or adding a premium processing request for a pending Form I-765 for OPT or OPT STEM Extension.

Premium processing for form I-765 requires an additional fee of $1500 for 30 days of processing time. In consequence, we recommend you review the current USCIS Processing times for “I-765” “Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student [(c)(3)]” with “Potomac Service Center” before submitting your premium processing request via the I-907 form.

For more information, see How Do I Request Premium Processing.