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.
  • We recommend you schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor to discuss pre-completion OPT.


How do I apply for Pre-Completion OPT?

1) View the OPT Tutorial.

2) Email ISSS at to request the Pre-Completion OPT I-20 Request iSpartan link as early as 100 days before the anticipated start date. 

3) Once submitted to ISSS, processing times is 5-7 business days. ISSS will email you when the new I-20 has been issued. USCIS is accepting digitally signed I-20's, so we will email you the I-20 with OPT recommendation. You will need this I-20 with OPT recommendation, to file your application with USCIS. 

4) Once you have your I-20 and have prepared your OPT packet, please be aware that USCIS must receive your completed OPT application within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 issuance date. Refer to the checklist of items for supporting documents that will need to be submitted to USCIS. 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)As of April 2021, USCIS offers 2 different ways to file an I-765 (OPT) application with USCIS. You must choose one option. You cannot choose both options. ISSS recommends you file online. 1. Mail application and supporting documents to USCIS. 2. Online filing of I-765

If you choose to mail your application, then refer to USCIS I-765 filing locations for the mailing address for the OPT application. Approximately 2-4 weeks after USCIS receives your application, you should receive a receipt notice with a USCIS case number.

7) Wait 2-4 months to receive work authorization from USCIS. You should receive an approval notice (I-797 Notice of Action) and EAD. You must have the EAD card, then you are eligible to work within the authorized dates in a job that is related to your major (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 submit their Pre-Completion OPT to ISSS as early as 100 days before their anticipated employment start date. ISSS cannot recommend pre-completion OPT until 90 days before the requested OPT 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.