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Pre-completion OPT

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Pre-completion Optional Practical Training (pre-OPT) is authorized employment prior to graduation. (You must apply for post-completion OPT to work after graduation.)

All OPT must be endorsed by Bechtel International Center and approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For general OPT eligibility requirements and the processing timeline, see Optional Practical Training (OPT). This page covers information specific to pre-OPT.  

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

  • Part-time pre-OPT cannot exceed 20 hours a week of on and off-campus work when school is in session. Hours are deducted from your available OPT limit at one-half the full-time rate. For example, two months of part-time pre-OPT equals one month of regular OPT. Pre-Completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months of OPT available at each degree level. 
  • Full-time work is authorized/permissible only during official school breaks and summer quarters. Full-time pre-OPT for summer quarter can be endorsed to begin as early as the day after the end date of final exams for spring quarter and extend no later than the day before the start date of autumn quarter.

Additionally, when considering pre-OPT, be aware of these related policies:

  • Students on a fellowship may be restricted from participating in pre-OPT. Consult with your department and consult the guidance in Fellowships and Assistantships.
  • Stanford considers students on a 50 percent research or teaching assistantship to be working 20 hours a week and ineligible for pre-OPT during the academic year. 
  • PhD students who have completed their coursework but not their thesis (TGR) are eligible for full-time employment under pre-OPT during the academic term. You are required to enroll in course 801/802. You should check with your department for any departmental restrictions before applying.

OPT Premium Processing (form I-907)

USCIS is now accepting Premium Processing requests for form I-765 for OPT and OPT STEM Extensions. This means that instead of 90 days or more needed to process your application, your OPT request can be processed in 30 days, for a fee. USCIS will process your OPT/STEM I-765 request within 30 days of the completed I-907 form submission.  Please note that after USCIS approval you may still have to wait a few weeks for your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card to arrive in the mail. You may file Form I-907 online via your USCIS account.

USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for F-1 students when filed together with Form I-765 or when 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 $1,685 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.

Applying for Pre-completion OPT

  1. Submit your request for an OPT I-20 in Bechtel Connect. You should not submit it earlier than 100 days before your employment start date. 
    • IMPORTANT: Do not apply for an OPT I-20 in Bechtel Connect if you are not planning to mail in the application within 14 days of receiving your new OPT I-20.
  2. Begin your application using USCIS Online Filing Checklist (pdf)
  3. Review your completed application packet and submit online to USCIS