Pre Completion OPT


What is Pre-Completion OPT?

Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment authorization issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • This type of work authorization occurs prior to students' degree completion and before the program end date stated on the I-20.
  • Students must have already completed at least one academic year (fall and spring semester) as a full-time student to be eligible for Pre-Completion OPT.
  • Pre-Completion OPT can be full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week). 
  • Full-time Pre-Completion OPT is only available to students:
  • a) during summer or  b) Graduate students who have completed all course requirements and are only left with a project/thesis/comprehensive exam in their final semester.


How do I apply for Pre-Completion OPT?

1) View the OPT Tutorial.

2) Submit the required documents listed on the Pre-Completion OPT application to the ISSS inbox as early as 100 days before the anticipated start date. 

3) A new I-20 will be issued to you and sent to you via post. 

4) Pick up your I-20 and prepare your OPT packet. USCIS must receive your complete OPT application within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 being issued. Refer to the checklist of items to submit to USCIS, from the OPT I-20 request form instructions. Make sure to visit USCIS's website for the most up-to-date forms (I-765, G-1145) and instructions. For help with Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, view ISSS' I-765 Completion Guidelines.

5) Optional: Attend an OPT Packet Review Workshop. Check the ISSS workshop calendar for specific dates.

6) Mail OPT application packet to USCIS. Refer to USCIS I-765 filing locations for the mailing address and check out these OPT Filing Tips & Reminders before mailing your application. Approximately 2-4 weeks after mailing, you should receive a receipt notice with a USCIS case number.

7) Wait 2-4 months to receive work authorization from USCIS, including approval notice and EAD. Wait for the EAD to arrive before beginning any employment (paid or unpaid).

8) Submit a copy of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to ISSS


Frequently Asked Questions (Pre-Completion OPT)

Do I need to have a job or job offer to apply for Pre-Completion OPT? 

No, a job offer is not required when applying. 

How soon could I apply for Pre-Completion OPT?

Students may apply for Pre-Completion OPT as early as 100 days before their anticipated employment start date. 

What can I do if I’ve been waiting for more than 90 days for my EAD card? 

An inquiry ticket can be submitted through USCIS's website. You may also schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor. Please check the USCIS Case Processing page to stay apprised of the current USCIS processing times for I-765 applications. 

What if I have Pre-Completion authorization, but don’t ever find a job? 

The time you utilize, regardless of whether you find a job or not, will be deducted from the 12 months of OPT you are granted, but your F-1 status will still remain valid. Please refer to the OPT Tutorial on how the OPT deductions are calculated for pre-completion OPT.

What should I do once I receive my EAD in the mail? 

Please submit a copy of your EAD to the ISSS office via email. 

Can I change employers during Pre-Completion OPT? 

Yes, you may change employers as many times as you wish while on Pre-Completion OPT, as long as the job is related to your major field of study at SJSU.

What type of status do I have during Pre-Completion OPT? 

You will remain in F-1 status because you are still considered to be an active F-1 student. 

Why don’t I have access to the SEVP Portal? 

Access to the SEVP Portal is limited to F-1 and M-1 status students on Post-Completion Practical Training.

Will there be a problem if I do not report my employment within 90 days of my EAD start date?

Students on Pre-Completion OPT are NOT required to report their employment. However, the time used while on Pre-Completion OPT, whether a student finds a relevant job or not, will be deducted from the overall 12-month Post- and Pre-Completion OPT allotment.