Pre-completion OPT

Pre-completion OPT is work authorization which is available to F-1 students before graduating. Pre-completion OPT can be an option when an off-campus internship or employment opportunity is not considered “integral” to a student’s degree.

F-1 students may take advantage of up to 12 months of OPT per degree level. Both pre-completion and post-completion OPT count toward these aggregate 12 months, meaning that any OPT completed before graduation is deducted from available post-completion OPT. This deduction occurs at a rate of either 50% or 100%, depending on whether the pre-completion OPT was part- or full-time. See the examples below:

  • 4 months of full-time, pre-completion OPT: 8 months of post-completion OPT available
  • 4 months of part-time, pre-completion OPT: 10 months of post-completion OPT available

During the fall, winter, and spring quarters, pre-completion OPT can only be authorized for part-time work (20 hours/week or less). Pre-completion OPT can be authorized for either part-time or full-time work during summer.

Unlike Curricular Practical Training (CPT), all OPT is authorized by USCIS. This means that an OPT application can take 3 months or more to be processed and approved. You may apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before your intended start date. Note that changing from part-time to full-time, or revert from full-time to part-time, will require a new application.

Eligibility for Pre-Completion OPT

  • Undergraduate or graduate student standing
  • Valid F-1 status for at least one academic year
  • Good academic standing (2.0 for undergrad students, 3.0 for graduate students)
  • International Center recommends your pre-completion OPT in SEVIS and issues you a new I-20 with the requested OPT dates

How to Apply for Pre-Completion OPT

  1. Email intlservices@calpoly.edu to Schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor
  2. Obtain an offer letter from your prospective employer will all of the following:
    1. Start and end dates of employment (may extend into winter/spring breaks)
    2. Paid or unpaid position
    3. Part-time (must state 20 hours or less) or full-time
    4. Full address of the employer
    5. Brief description of job duties
    6. Signature of your employer
  3. Provide the offer letter to your advisor to determine whether the employment is directly related to your major. Advisor should send an email to intlservices@calpoly.edu recommending the internship and confirming that it is directly related to your major.
  4. Gather the documents below and send PDF scans to intlservices@calpoly.edu for review:
    1. Form G-1145
    2. Form I-765
    3. Two passport-sized photos
    4. I-94 electronic copy
    5. Black and white scan of your passport photo and information page(s)
    6. Black and white scan of your most recent entry stamp
    7. Black and white scan of any previous EAD card(s)
    8. Black and white scan of your I-797a Approval Notice (if applicable)
  5. Mail the documents above along with your $550 application fee to USCIS and include a copy of the I-20 with pre-completion OPT recommendation issued by International Center

Next Steps

  • A Receipt Notice will be sent within a few weeks after your application is received
  • You can follow-up on the status of your application after you receive your receipt notice. The receipt notice has a case number. Check the DHS Online Case Status site for the status of your application
  • If you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE), notify the International Center immediately for assistance
  • The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card will be mailed to the address on your I- 765 Form. Your approved employment dates will be listed on your EAD card so you must receive the EAD before you can begin employment