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
- You can apply up to 90 days before your requested start date
Step 2: Complete In-Person or Online Pre-Completion OPT Session
Step 3: Submit OPT Request Form and Quiz
Complete the OPT Request Form and Quiz.
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 4. If you submit the form more than 90 days before your requested start date, it will be held and processed so that you can pick up the new I-20 90 days prior to your requested start date.
Step 4: Complete Form I-765 & Submit OPT Application Materials to USCIS
- Filing Fee ($380): Personal check, cashiers check or money order. Please view the USCIS fee instructions to make sure you comply. The filing fee for OPT is $380, and the purpose of payment is "I-765 application fee". Money orders are available at the post office.
- Two passport-style photos taken within 30 days (Should meet requirements here; can be taken at CVS, UPS store, or post office)
- Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
- Form I-765
- Copy of new Form I-20 (with OPT recommendation on page 3). Must be received by USCIS within 30 days of issuance or application will be denied.
- Copies of all previous I-20s
- Copies of previous EADs (if any)
- Copy of passport biographic page
- Printout of I-94 record
- Copy of F-1 Visa (unless Canadian citizen)
Tips for Completing the I-765 (View Sample Form here)
- Type this form, then print and sign. Handwritten forms can result in errors on the EAD.
- "I am applying for": check "permission to accept employment"
- Item 1: Your family name comes first and should be in ALL CAPS
- Item 3: List the address where USCIS will send the receipt
notice and EAD. Address should remain valid for at least three months
after submission of the application. If you use a friend or relative's
address, write "c/o [friend's name]" before you write the address.
- Item 10: Your I-94 number is an 11 digit number found on your I-94 record.
- Item 11: If you have submitted this form to USCIS previously,
you have applied. If you still have either the receipt or the approval
notice from your initial application, the receipt number tells you where
it was filed (SRC = Texas, EAC = Vermont, LIN = Nebraska, WAC =
California). Enter the date you were approved/denied. If you
were granted or denied, you must attach a copy of the EAD or denial.
- Items 14 and 15: F-1 Student. (If you completed a chance of status in the U.S., check with your advisor about Item 14.)
- Item 16: Reason code for post-completion OPT is (c)(3)(A)
- Item 17: Leave blank
Submit OPT Application to USCIS. (DO NOT use the online application.) If you a DC, Maryland, or Virginia address on Form I-765, send to the USICS Dallas lockbox:
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries (make sure to send via priority mail --retain your tracking number):
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
For Express mail and courier deliveries (FedEx or UPS):
2501 S. State Hwy. 121
Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
If you list another state on the I-765, look up the lockbox location address here.
Step 5: 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.