Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training
Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an F-1 employment authorization that allows students the opportunity to work off-campus before graduation in a position directly related to their field of study after completing one year of study in full-time status. Pre-Completion OPT gives students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they are gaining in their degree program at Georgetown Law.
The steps below outline the Pre-Completion OPT application process.
NOTE: USCIS fee increases take effect on April 1, 2024. The current Form I-765 application filing fee is $410. To receive a Form I-20 with Pre-Completion OPT recommendation before April 1, 2024, you must complete Steps 1 & 2 by 5:00 PM on March 27, 2024. Any Form I-765 applications submitted to USCIS on April 1, 2024 or later will be subject to the fee increase.
STEP 1: REVIEW PRE-COMPLETION OPT ELIGIBILITY AND WATCH ONLINE OPT SESSION
- You must have completed one full academic year in full-time status. You must complete one full academic year by the OPT start date, but you can apply before completing a full year. For example, a first year J.D. student may apply in March for Pre-Completion OPT to begin in June.
- You need to be in good academic standing.
- No job offer letter is required.
- F-1 students are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT at each new and higher degree level. The 12 months of authorization are shared between both Pre-Completion OPT and Post-Completion OPT.
- You may apply for part-time Pre-Completion OPT (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic year.
- You may apply for full-time Pre-Completion OPT (more than 20 hours per week) during summer vacation.
- All employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
- You can apply up to 90 days before your requested OPT start date.
- You MUST watch the online Pre-Completion OPT video below before applying.
The video below was created before USCIS launched the online Form I-765 application. Part of the video will detail instructions on how to submit a Form I-765 application by mail. However, all other information in the video remains accurate to help you understand Pre-Completion OPT prior to applying. Instructions on how to submit a online Form I-765 application can be found in Step 3.
STEP 2: SUBMIT PRE-COMPLETION OPT REQUEST FORM AND QUIZ
- If you do not receive a passing score, you will need to retake the quiz. If you are unsure of the answers, review the online video in Step 1 before submitting.
- We will not issue your new Form I-20 with Pre-Completion OPT recommendation until your I-94 record and unofficial transcript are received.
- A new Form I-20 with Pre-Completion OPT recommendation will be issued within one business week. This new Form I-20 is meant to be included as Form I-765 supporting documentation to USCIS.
- If you submit the Pre-Completion OPT Request Form and Quiz more than 90 days before your requested OPT start date, your submission will be held and the Form I-20 with Pre-Completion OPT recommendation will not be issued until the 90th day prior to your requested OPT start date has been reached.
STEP 3: COMPLETE FORM I-765 & SUBMIT PRE-COMPLETION OPT APPLICATION MATERIALS TO USCIS
Applicants must choose whether to file Form I-765 and submit supporting documentation online or by mail. Applicants must not mix filing methods. Duplicate applications may be denied. Documentation requirements differ slightly for each filing method. USCIS processing time for final adjudication is the same for both filing methods.
It is recommended that applicants apply online for ease of use, cheaper filing fee, faster issuance of case receipt number, and better tracking of application processing with USCIS.
Below details information on how to submit an online Form I-765 application to USCIS.
Form I-765 Application Materials Checklist
Have the following documents and information available to electronically upload or input into your Form I-765 application:
- New Form I-20 with Pre-Completion OPT Recommendation
- Most Recent I-94 Entry Record
- Unexpired Passport
- Passport Photo
- Unofficial Georgetown Transcript from MyAccess
- Previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Cards issued by USCIS (if any)
- Previous Forms I-20 with prior CPT and OPT authorizations (if any)
- Form I-765 Application Filing Fee
- On or Before March 31, 2024: $410, regardless if filing online or by mail
- On or After April 1, 2024: $470 if filing online, and $520 if filing by mail
- Optional: $1,500 Form I-907 Premium Processing Filing Fee
- Consult with your International Student Advisor before deciding to pay for Premium Processing
If you have used CPT or OPT before at Georgetown or at any previous academic institution, plan early to collect your previous Forms I-20 and EAD cards. If you do not have all copies of your previous Forms I-20 with CPT or OPT authorizations, it is recommended to write a letter acknowledging that they are missing. See the Missing Form I-20 Sample Letter as a guide.
Create a USCIS Online Account and Start the Form I-765 Application
Visit the How to Create a USCIS Online Account page to watch videos and read instructions on how to make an online account with USCIS, and learn about the benefits and tools associated with online filing. Afterwards, use the instructions to start your Form I-765 application.
- Log into your USCIS online account.
- Start your Pre-Completion OPT application by selecting “MyUSCIS”, then “File a Form Online,” and then “I-765, Application For Employment Authorization” before clicking “Start Form.”
- It is very important to read through all the information in the “Before You Start Your Application” and “Completing Your Form Online” sections before proceeding with the rest of the application.
- While progressing through the application, please be sure to read all alerts, warnings, errors and notices, as the messages may contain important information that may affect the submission and/or decision of your application.
- When uploading application materials, document files must be in JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF or TIFF format. Ensure images are clear and readable. Do not encrypt or password-protect files.
Form I-765 Helpful Tips
This section will provide you with helpful tips while filling out the Form I-765 application. It is not a detailed step-by-step guide, but should provide clarity to some questions on the Form I-765 for an F-1 student applying for Pre-Completion OPT.
- Eligibility Category: (c)(3)(A) Student Pre-Completion OPT
- If you select any other F-1 student eligibility category, such as (c)(3)(B) Student Post-Completion OPT or (c)(3)(C) STEM Extension, your Form I-765 application may be denied by USCIS.
- Premium Processing: This is an optional service. For an additional $1,500 on top of the Form I-765 application filing fee, USCIS will expedite your Form I-765 application processing to 30 days or less once your application has been submitted and USCIS receives your filing fee and premium processing fee payments.
- If you decide you want to take advantage of this service while filling out the Form I-765, Form I-907 will be included in the online application and submitted together. The premium processing filing fee will be added to how much you need to pay before checkout.
- If you decide after submitting the Form I-765 that you want to take advantage of this service, you will need to complete the Form I-907 and complete payment separately, and associate the premium processing to your Form I-765 receipt number.
- Reason for Applying: Initial permission to accept employment.
- U.S. Mailing Address: This is the address you would like your Pre-Completion OPT EAD card to be mailed to once your application is approved.
- Do not use Georgetown Law as your mailing address, unless you are a Gewirz Student Center resident. Georgetown Law is not responsible for any lost or stolen EAD cards.
- If you are mailing your EAD card to someone else’s address that you do not live at, input the person’s name in the “In care of name” section.
- I-94: Have your I-94 entry record ready to fill out questions asking about your Arrival-Departure Record Number, most recent U.S. entry date and location, and the immigration status you were admitted into.
- Current Immigration Status or Category: F1 – Student, Academic Or Language Program
- SEVIS Number: Can be found on your Form I-20.
- A-Number: A unique 7-, 8- or 9-digit number assigned to a U.S. noncitizen by the Department of Homeland Security.
- If you have never applied for U.S. immigration benefits before with USCIS or are unsure if you ever received an A-Number, you can select “I do not have or know my A-Number.”
- USCIS Online Account Number: A unique ID number issued by the USCIS online filing system account. Creating a USCIS online account doesn’t automatically generate this number.
- If you have never submitted a USCIS online application before, or are unsure if you ever received a USCIS Online Account Number, you can select “I do not have or know my USCIS Online Account Number.”
- Social Security Card: This is an optional service. If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), you have the opportunity to request one with the Social Security Administration (SSA) via submission of the Form I-765 application. After your application is approved, USCIS will send your information to the SSA to issue you an SSN and mail the card to you.
- If applying for a social security card, the online application will ask for your mother and father’s birth name. If your mother changed her surname after marriage, you will need to provide her maiden (pre-marriage) surname.
- If you have an SSN, you have the opportunity to request a replacement card if your card was lost or stolen.
- If you do not have an SSN and decide to not use this service, you can apply for a social security card separately after you have obtained your OPT EAD card and have reached the EAD card start date. More information on how to apply for the SSN separately can be found on the Applying for the Social Security Card page.
- Passport Photo Section: Use the U.S. Department of State’s Passport Photo Tool to make sure your photo meets criteria. Afterwards, upload your passport photo.
- I-94 or Passport Section: Upload either a copy of your most recent I-94 entry record, or a copy of your passport.
- EAD Section: Upload either a copy of your passport, or a copy of an EAD card if you were previously issued one.
- Proof of Enrollment Section: Upload your unofficial Georgetown transcript from MyAccess.
- Previous CPT or OPT Section: Upload copies of previous Forms I-20 with prior CPT and OPT authorizations or missing Form I-20 letter (if any). If you do not have any previous CPT or OPT authorizations, leave this section blank.
- Form I-20 Section: Upload your New Form I-20 with Pre-Completion OPT Recommendation.
- Additional Information Section: If there is any section of the Form I-765 application that you would like to elaborate on, have a complicated personal history or extensive U.S. immigration history that needs to be explained, or have extra information or documentation that may be useful for USCIS to know, please add details here.
- Review Form I-765 Section: The summary page provides all the information inputted into the Form I-765. This section includes questions that were filtered out depending on how you answered certain questions, or questions not applicable to an F-1 student applying for Pre-Completion OPT. Review to make sure the information you inputted is accurate.
- Statement and Signature: Please read and be sure to understand all the details of the Applicant’s Statement and Applicant’s Declaration and Certification section prior to agreeing and digitally signing.
- Form I-907: If you decide you want to take advantage of Premium Processing, the online application takes you to a section called “Finish the I-765 and continue to the I-907” after finishing the Statement and Signature sections. By clicking “Finish and Continue”, you will lock the Form I-765 and proceed to filling out the Form I-907.
- Form I-907 is a very short form, and the questions are straight-forward, asking similar information found in the Form I-765.
- Pay and Submit: The Form I-765 application filing fee will be listed. You will be directed to Pay.gov to fill out billing information and input either your credit card or bank information to complete payment.
- If you decide you want to take advantage of Premium Processing, the Form I-907 filing fee of $1,500 will additionally be listed.
- Please view the USCIS Filing Fees page to make sure you are paying the correct Form I-765 (and Form I-907) filing fee amount prior to submitting your application.
- Please note that once you submit your payment, USCIS filing fees are non-refundable. If you are not ready to submit payment, please press “Cancel.”
After payment, your Form I-765 application will be submitted to USCIS. You should be redirected to a confirmation screen and have an option to view your submitted application cases in your USCIS online account.
STEP 4: WAIT FOR USCIS APPROVAL AND EAD CARD
While the Application is Pending
- Application processing may take up to 90 days or longer.
- If you filed online, your receipt notice will be available in your USCIS online account.
- If you filed by mail, you should receive a receipt notice at the address you listed on Form I-765 in approximately 4-6 weeks. If you completed Form G-1145, you should receive an emailed notification as well.
- Use your receipt number to check your case status in your USCIS online account or the USCIS Check Case Status page.
- Save a copy of your Form I-765 application for your personal immigration records. If you filed online, you can download a copy from your USCIS online account. If you filed by mail, you should have made copies of your application materials prior to submission.
- Sign up for Informed Delivery with USPS for advanced warning of when to expect the Employment Authorized Document (EAD) card to be delivered after it has been shipped by USCIS.
- You may not legally begin working off-campus during this time.
- We do not recommend traveling outside the United States while your application is pending.
If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE)
- An RFE is made when an application lacks required documentation/evidence.
- If you receive an RFE, it is very important to respond as soon as possible.
- If you have any questions about responding to the RFE, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your Application is Denied
- If your application is denied, you may reapply if you have not yet reached your Form I-20 program end date (graduation).
- There may be implications towards full-time Pre-Completion OPT eligibility depending on timing of application denial and new OPT start date and end date you request when reapplying.
- Email email@example.com as soon as possible about reapplying.
If your Application is Returned to You
- If your application is returned to you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to see if you need a new Form I-20 before resubmitting your application.
After the Application is Approved
- Once USCIS approves the OPT application, you will receive an Employment Authorized Document (EAD) card. Please note that the approval notice will be mailed separately from the EAD card.
- You should receive the EAD card approximately one week after receiving the receipt notice.
- Email email@example.com a copy of your EAD card after you have received it.
- You cannot begin work until you have received the EAD card in-hand.
- The EAD card will explicitly state the dates you are authorized to work. If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) and will be working in a paid position, you will need to apply for a SSN as soon as you reach the start date listed on the EAD card.
STEP 5: MAINTAIN STATUS DURING PRE-COMPLETION OPT
Responsibilities During the OPT Period
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org a copy of your EAD card after you have received it.
- Continue maintaining F-1 status at Georgetown Law.
- You must report whenever you start or end a new job or internship. Report your employment directly to email@example.com as soon as you begin working with the following information:
Number of Hours Per Week:
Employment Start Date:
Employment End Date:
Short Narrative Description of How Employment is Related to Field of Study: See the Reporting Employment section below for tips on how to write a short narrative description to satisfy OPT reporting requirements.
Employer updates need to include text describing the relationship between the practical training opportunity and your major field of study at Georgetown. SEVP has shared examples of this text description, which are included below.
While the examples from SEVP do not include LL.M. or J.D. degrees, they provide a framework for your text description. All of the examples from SEVP include 2-3 sentences, and we strongly encourage you to match this length. Here are the examples from SEVP:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering: I work full time as an Electrical Engineer at ABC Corp., a government contractor. In my job, I analyze client requirements for electrical systems and provide them with cost estimates of such systems. My work requires understanding of electrical circuit theory, which I studied in-depth at the University of ABC.
- Bachelor’s Degree in Business: I work full time as a Loan Officer at a mortgage company, Happy Homes, where I meet with clients and evaluate, authorize and recommend approval of loan applications. On a daily basis, I use the knowledge I gained in my credit analysis, sales and marketing classes that I took as part of my major program of study.
- Master’s Degree in Music: I am working at a hospital playing the harp in patient rooms. I also conduct hands-on harp beginner workshops for long-term patients. On average, I work at the hospital 35 hours a week. My duties directly utilize the skills and knowledge I acquired from my coursework and degree in music therapy.
- PhD in Computer Science: I am employed as a Computer and Information Research Scientist at ABC Research Institute. I work as part of a team of scientists and engineers that designs experiments to test the operation of various software systems. My work builds on research in complex algorithms and machine learning, which I studied as part of my dissertation.
- Master’s Degree in Kinesiology: I am working 25 hours a week in a health food store as a consultant for Self-Made Inc., designing and teaching exercise classes that are incorporated into a customer’s overall nutrition and exercise plan . My designs and customer instruction draw upon my studies and classwork in exercise therapy and physical reconditioning
Periods of Unemployment
During Pre-Completion OPT, unemployment is allowable. However, any days of accrued unemployment are not recuperated back into the 12 months of authorization shared between both Pre-Completion OPT and Post-Completion OPT.