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.

Premium Processing with USCIS

On March 6, 2023 USCIS announced Premium Processing; New Online-Filing Procedures for Certain F-1 Student Seeking OPT or OPT OPT Extensions.

ISSS does not recommend the premium processing option, as long as you have built in sufficient time (e.g. 2-3 months) to apply for OPT or STEM OPT. You can go here to find out the current processing times for form I-765 with USCIS. (See below for the information you will need to enter to find the current processing times). 

     Form: I-765 Application for Employment Authorization

     Form Category: Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student [(c)(3)[]

     Field Office or Service Center: Potomac Service Center

If you choose to file for premium processing for your OPT or STEM OPT application, you still need to get an I-20 from ISSS with the OPT recommendation prior to filing your application with USCIS. Please keep in mind the following information.

Filing Fee for Premium Processing:$1,500 if you are filing Form I-907 for a pending Form I-765 with eligibility category (c)(3)(A) Pre-Completion OPT. Please note: These fees are in addition to all other filing fees required by the application or petition you are submitting.

USCIS will take adjudicative action within 30 days or will refund Premium Processing fee

  • Beginning March 6, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for certain F-1 students who already have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if they are filing under one of the following categories: 
    • (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT; 
    • (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and 
    • (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students. 
  • Beginning April 3, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for F-1 students in the above categories when filed together with Form I-765

USCIS will reject premium processing requests for a pending Form I-765 if received before March 6, and will reject any premium processing request for an initial or concurrently filed Form I-765 that is received before April 3. 



How do I apply for Pre-Completion OPT?

1) View the Post 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. 

**When you submit the e-form, it will be sent to your Academic Department for them to sign off on your OPT request. If your Academic Department approves the form, it will then be sent to the ISSS office for processing. 

4) While you are waiting for your I-20, review the following tutorials. They will give you a list of documents to gather for your application, as well as I-765 guidelines.

*Online filing of I-765 for OPT/STEM OPT.

*Mailing I-755 for OPT/STEM OPT.

Do not submit your OPT application to USCIS until you have the new I-20 with OPT recommendation from ISSS.

5) 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. Make sure to visit USCIS's website for the most up-to-date forms (I-765G-1145) and instructions.

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 that you file online. 1. Mail application and supporting documents to USCIS. Review ISSS Mailing I-755 for OPT/STEM OPT.2. Online filing of I-765. Review ISSS Online filing of I-765 for OPT/STEM OPT.

*If you have previously filed an OPT application online, update your address in your USCIS online account BEFORE you file the Pre-Completion OPT application.

If you choose to mail your application, then refer to USCIS I-765 filing locations for the mailing address for the OPT application and the tutorial: Mailing I-755 for OPT/STEM OPT.. 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.