Pre-Completion OPT

Pre-Completion OPT

Pre-Completion OPT

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is off-campus employment authorization that allows F-1 students to gain work experience directly related to their major field of study. Please be aware of the following conditions:

  • Your OPT employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
  • You are permitted a maximum of 12 months of full-time employment for each higher educational level you pursue in the U.S. (eg. bachelor’s or master’s degree)
  • No specific job offer is required to apply for OPT. However, you MUST find employment within 90 days of being approved for OPT to maintain legal F-1 status. 
  • You cannot begin your employment until you have received your approved EAD card.

If you have used full time CPT for one year or more, you are no longer eligible for OPT. Use of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.

Pre-Completion OPT Requirements

Pre-Completion OPT: Start date prior to the program end date on the student’s I-20

  • You may participate in pre-completion OPT during your studies after you have been enrolled at Rowan University for one full academic year. 
  • You must work part-time when school is in session.
  • You may work part-time or full-time during vacation periods for students.(as long as student will be registered in the school in the following semester)
  • Part-time pre-completion OPT accrues at a rate of 50%. For example, 6 months of part-time pre-completion OPT counts as 3 months of the total of 12 months of OPT you are allowed.

• NOTE: All periods of pre-completion OPT are deducted from the available post-completion OPT.

When to Apply

Pre-completion OPT applications can be filed up to 90 days before the proposed OPT start date if the student has completed a full academic year in F-1 status. If not, the student may only file the I-765 for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before the end of the full academic year. The application must be filed within 30 days of the date your international student adviser enters the OPT recommendation into SEVIS.

Travel Warnings: Traveling abroad between the time you submit your OPT application and the time you receive the USCIS receipt notice, or if your OPT has expired and you are waiting for a STEM extension EAD could result in the loss of OPT and denial of readmission to the U.S., (2) while on post-completion OPT or an extension, regulations allow you to re-enter the U.S. to resume employment, (3) if you will need to apply for an F-1 visa to return to the U.S. while on OPT, please note that this may be a high risk visa application and the chances of denial could be greater than normal.

OPT Termination: Your OPT authorization ends when you commence another degree program, change to another status, the expiration date of your EAD, if an extension request is denied, or if on H-1B cap-gap extension – if the H-1B petition is rejected.

How to Apply

Submit the following application materials to the International Center:

  • Original OPT Request Form
  • Complete the I-765 form, which can be found on the USCIS webpagePlease read the I-765 Instructions carefully.
  • For pre-completion OPT, enter “c 3 A” under item 16.
  • For post-completion OPT, enter “c 3 B” under item 16.
  • Original Form G-1145
  • I-765 application fee: $410 check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. *If your name and current address are not on the form of payment, write them on the check/money order.Write “fee for I-765" on the memo line. Also, please write your SEVIS ID number and your phone # on the form of payment.
  • Photocopy of current Form I-94 front & back OR a print out of your electronic I-94.
  • Photocopy of passport (photo page, visa page, renewal page if original has expired, and pages showing amendments such as name changes, corrections, etc.).
  • Photocopies of all previous and current I-20s.
  • Photocopies of any previously issued employment authorization documents (EAD cards).
  • Two U.S. passport-style photographs taken within the last 30 days (Photograph instructions are on the Form I-765 instructions under Required Documentation. Note: Using pencil lightly print your name and SEVIS ID number on the back of the photo.
  • Photocopies of all application materials to be placed on file in the International Center office.

Note: We recommend that students make copies of all materials for their own records.

The International advisor will review all your OPT application. If you qualify for OPT, we will issue you an updated I-20 with your OPT recommendation. You must come to the office to sign the updated I-20. All students are personally responsible for ensuring the accuracy and completion of their OPT application materials and for mailing these materials to USCIS. If you live in New Jersey Please mail your OPT application to:

(If sending through U.S. Postal Service) 

USCIS Dallas Lockbox
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

(For Express mail and courier deliveries)

Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

For more information about Direct Mailing Addresses of Form I-765.

NOTE: It may take about three months for your EAD card to be sent to your address by USCIS. It is important to take USCIS processing time into consideration when planning the date you request to begin OPT. Remember, you cannot begin to work until you have your EAD card!

CPT Vs. OPT Summary

Please click here for a summary of the differences between CPT and OPT.