Pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment authorized before the completion of a student's program of study. If a student has a job offer in his/her field of study, but the work is not required for the student to make academic progress, and therefore would not qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), pre-completion OPT may be the best option.
The authorization process through the USCIS can take from 2 to 3 months. The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level. F-1 students may apply to use some or all of the available 12 months of practical training during their course of study or may save some or all of the full twelve months to use after graduation.
Be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of the application
Have not used OPT at the same degree level previously
Be in good academic standing
Submit the following to the International Center, GSU 327:
A letter of recommendation from your academic advisor
Properly filled I-765 Form (www.uscis.gov/i-765)
Copy of your I-94 card, both sides, if you have a paper I-94. If you do not have a paper I-94, print the electronic I-94 from your most recent entry into the US (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov
Copy of your passport page showing photo, passport number, issuing country and expiration date
Copy of your most recent US visa stamp
Copy of all previously issued I-20 forms
Two color passport photos (2x2 inches – white background)
An application fee of $380 (subject to change), in the form of a check or money order payable to the Department of Homeland Security (cash is not accepted)
After you submit the documents to the International Center, you will be issued a new I-20 form recommending you for Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training. You will then submit your OPT request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), who will adjudicate your application. The normal processing time for this application is typically 60-90 days. USCIS will notify you directly regarding the status of your application.
You may use OPT while you are still in your degree program as follows: (1) part-time while school is in session, (2) full-time during annual vacation periods, and/or (3) full-time after a doctoral student completes all course requirements for the degree and has only the dissertation remaining.
These periods of OPT used before graduation will be deducted from the total allowable period of 12 months. Part-time OPT will be deducted at one-half the full-time rate.
You are allowed to apply for practical training for a maximum of 12 months, minus the number of months, if any, you may have already used for the Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training. If you are authorized for part time pre-completion OPT, only ½ the number of months will be deducted.
Students on OPT are permitted only 90 days of unemployment. Please notify the International Center as soon as you have found employment, paid or unpaid, so that we can enter your employer’s information in your SEVIS record. After receiving your EAD (employment card) notify the International Center of any name change, address change, the name and address of your employer and any discontinuation of your employment.
The International Center strongly advises that you do not use your Pre-Completion OPT if you do not have an employment offer prior to submitting an application to the USCIS.