Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training may be used before graduation. It is meant to supplement your academic experience with practical experience.
USCIS published a final fee rule on August 3, 2020 that was to become effective 60 days later, on October 2, 2020. The rule specified: "Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must be accompanied with the fees established by this final rule." The rule also made changes to Form I-765, Form I-129, premium processing, and other fee processing changes. However, on September 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule. Read the court's order.
New fees and form versions and other changes associated with the final fee rule that were to be effective on October 2, 2020 are now on hold.
For more information please see NAFSA's update.
Be sure to use the I-765 Form dated 8/25/2020. The OPT filing fee will remain $410.
Optional Practical Training is an F-1 student benefit granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It allows you to work off-campus in a job related to your major. It is meant to supplement your academic experience with practical experience.
To be eligible for Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training, you must document that:
If applying for Pre-Completion OPT during the academic semester (Fall/Spring) you must be enrolled full-time. You are not eligible for Pre-Completion OPT during the semester in which you are approved for an Academic Reduced Course Load.
If you re-enter the U.S. using an Initial I-20 (i.e. an I-20 with a new SEVIS ID number), you not eligible for Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training until you complete one academic year (two semesters) as a full-time student after returning from your leave. Time spent as a full-time student prior to taking a Leave of Absence cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.
Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training may be used during any of the following situations:
a. during the Fall/Spring semester
b. during annual vacation periods (summer and winter breaks, when they are not the final semester)
At the time of application, you must choose part-time or full-time (if eligible for either). It is not possible to change the maximum number of hours per week after submitting your application.
In general, you choose the start date and end date. However, keep in mind that USCIS processing times are currently 3-5 months.
The dates of any full-time Pre-OPT must align with a semester since ISS must confirm that you meet one of the requirements above. For example, if you want a full-time summer Pre-OPT, your start date must be after the Spring semester ends. The end date must be before the Fall semester begins.
Any full-time Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training authorization you receive is subtracted from your total 12‑month period.
Any part‑time OPT (20 hours per week or less) is deducted at the rate of one day of practical training for every two part‑time days of OPT authorized.
The earliest you can apply is 90 days before your chosen work start date.
You may submit your application up to 90 days prior to completing one academic year of study, provided that the period of employment will not begin until the completion of the full academic year.
Your application must be received by the USCIS within 30 days of the issuance of your OPT I-20 and the signature on your Form I-765. If your OPT application does not comply with this requirement, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR OPT BENEFIT.
1. Login to UB Global by clicking on the “LOGIN” button and using your UBIT Name and Password.
Email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Click on “F-1 Practical Training Applications” and then “PRE-Completion Optional Practical Training”.
4. You must complete the entire e-form and upload all required documents before you can submit your application. Only documents saved as a PDF or JPEG are acceptable. You must upload:
5. “Submit”. After reviewing your application, ISS will enter your OPT into SEVIS, which will produce a new I-20 with the OPT recommendation. You will receive an email when your I-20 is ready for pick-up.
USCIS published information on fee increases as a Final Rule effective October 2, 2020.
1) the issuance of your I-20 with OPT recommendation, and
2) the signature on your Form I-765.
OPT applications must not be received by the USCIS more than 90 days before the Program End Date on your I-20. If an application is received by the USCIS more than 90 days before the Program End Date, the application may be denied.
Be sure to photocopy your entire OPT application for your personal records.
It is extremely important that applicants for OPT submit a complete and accurate application to the USCIS. The USCIS recently announced that they have full discretion to deny applications without first issuing a Request For Evidence (RFE). This means that if there is a mistake in your application or you forget to include a required document, USCIS may deny your application. For additional information see USCIS RFE AND NOID POLICY.
The USCIS address to use depends on the physical address listed on your I-765. Please refer to the USCIS lockbox facilities page for details.
You should use a reliable, express delivery service (e.g. UPS, FedEx) to mail your application. Utilizing an express delivery service will enable you to track your application and its delivery. Please save your receipt.
If your mailing address changes after you submit your OPT application to USCIS, you must notify the USCIS, the Post Office and ISS of your change in address within 10 days of the change. Failure to notify USCIS and the Post Office in a timely manner could result in delays in receiving your EAD.
To notify the USCIS, use their online Change of Address Form. You will need your OPT Application Receipt Number to complete the form. If you move to a new address, you should also notify the US Postal Service (USPS) using their online form. Finally, to notify ISS, log into myISSS and select F-1 Practical Training Applications from the drop-down menu. Then complete the Update Pending OPT Student Contact Information e-form.
Currently, processing time at the USCIS can be as long as 5 months. However, processing times vary widely, depending on the time of year and workload at the Service Center to which you send your application. We encourage you to regularly review the processing times found on the USCIS website.
If you have a job offer and 120 days has passed since the Receipt Date on your I797 Receipt Notice, you may contact us for assistance. We can inquire with USCIS about the status of your application. However, we cannot guarantee that our inquiry will result in an expedite or change in processing times.
Once you have waited 150 days, or beyond the current maximum published USCIS processing times, we recommend that you take the following actions:
USCIS expedite criteria are very strict and it can be difficult to provide sufficient evidence to meet the USCIS criteria. Having a job offer or the possibility of losing that job do not generally qualify for an expedite unless you can effectively make an argument that your situation does meet the criteria. If considering an expedite, please ensure that you have sufficient documentation and a compelling argument.
Additional information on expedite criteria and how to file can be found on the USCIS page.
We highly recommend that you keep your employer informed about the status of your OPT application. We also recommend communicating that you cannot confirm exactly when your application will be approved, but that you can provide estimated processing times. We have heard from many students whose employers agreed to change their start date multiple times due to processing delays, so it is important to discuss your situation with your employer.
If your employer wants additional information about OPT processing, they are welcome to contact ISS. If you would like your employer to speak to us about the specifics of your case, please send us an email authorizing ISS to discuss your individual situation.
You cannot begin employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS and the “start date” printed on the EAD card is effective.