Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training
Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training is the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in your degree program to off-campus work in your major field prior to your graduation. Pre-completion OPT requires you to have been in full-time status for one academic year, and is open only to JD students who have completed the first year, 2-year LL.M. students in the second year of the program, and SJD students who have completed the first year of the program. Optional Practical Training (OPT) is 12 months of available work permission authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The steps below will outline the pre-completion OPT application process.
Step 1: Determine OPT Eligibility
- Full-time status for one full academic year. (You must complete one full academic year by the OPT start date, but you can apply before meeting the one full academic year mark. For example, first year JD student may apply in March for pre-completion OPT to begin in June.)
- Good academic standing
- No job offer letter required
- F-1 students are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT at each degree level
- Work permitted up to 20 hours per week during academic year
- Work permitted full time during official university breaks and vacations
- All employment must be directly related to the major field of study
Step 2: Submit OPT REQUEST Form
Complete the OPT Request Form and submit the form to the Office of Graduate Programs via e-mail, walk-in hours, or appointment.
Our office will recommend OPT and issue a new Form I-20 (Processing Time: 3-5 business days) to be included in the USCIS application. See STEP 3.
Step 3: Complete Form I-765 & Submit OPT Application Materials to USCIS
- Filing Fee: Personal check, cashiers check or money order (see sample)
- Two passport-style photos taken within 30 days (see sample)
- Form I-765
- Copy of new Form I-20 (with OPT recommendation on page 3)
- Copies of all previous I-20s
- Copies of EADs (if any)
- Copy of passport biographic page
- Copy of I-94 card
- Copy of F-1 Visa
Submit OPT Application to USCIS (DO NOT USE the online application)
Step 4: What Happens Next?
Wait: Application Processing may take up to 90 days.
Once USCIS approves the OPT, you will receive an Employment Authorized Document (EAD). You cannot begin work until you have received the EAD card and the EAD dates are current. The EAD will explicitly state the dates you are authorized to work. If you do not have a Social Security Number, you will need to apply for one as soon as your EAD start date is valid.