Pre-Completion OPT is requested when a student is interested in doing an internship or employment related to their major field during their program of study. Pre-completion may be a good option for a student who wants to participate in employment during their program but they are not eligible for CPT (Curricular Practical Training). Do not submit an application for OPT to USCIS without thoroughly reading the instructions below first, you cannot submit an application to USCIS without a new OPT I-20 issued by the ISSS office.
Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT per degree level (this includes both pre-completion and post-completion OPT). For example, if a student is granted 4 months of full-time pre-completion OPT, the student would have 8 months of OPT remaining to use after they graduate.
Part-time pre-completion OPT deducts from the total 12 months allowed by half. For example, if a student is granted 4 months of part-time pre-completion opt, the student would have 10 months of OPT remaining to use after they graduate.
Students may only use full-time pre-completion OPT during school breaks (such as over the summer) or once they have completed all required course requirements (such as a PhD student who completed all coursework and is only doing research full-time).
Pre-completion OPT is a separate application from post-completion OPT. If you use some pre-completion OPT, and then later want to use the rest of your OPT post-completion, you will need to file a separate application and pay a separate application fee.
If you are a Master's or PhD student who has already completed all course requirements and will be finishing your final research requirements within the next year, you may want to apply for post-completion OPT instead. Students in these specific situations can apply for post-completion OPT as long as they obtain their degree before the 12 months of post-completion OPT expires.
- Students are eligible to apply for OPT to begin upon completion of their first academic year of study in their program (a fall and spring semester).
- Time spent studying full-time in a status other than F-1: an F-1 student need not have been specifically in F-1 status while studying, provided he or she was lawfully enrolled as a full-time student at a service-approved school in another nonimmigrant status that does not prohibit full-time study (such as H-4). You must be in F-1 status at the time you submit your applicaion for OPT to the USCIS.
- Students may apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before the requested OPT start date. Students choose the start and end date for pre-completion OPT. Note: Although you are permitted to apply for pre-completion OPT within 90 days of the requested start date, USCIS can take longer than this period of time to process your application (sometimes up to 5 months). For current USCIS processing times, please click here (choose I765 under forms and Potomac Service Center under field office).
- Students can file the I-765 no more than 90 days before the student will have been in F-1 status. For example, if you wish to begin your pre-completion OPT on June 1st of your first academic year, you can apply March 1st during your second, spring, semester.
1. There are a list of documents you are required to gather for the OPT application. To see the list of required documents, please click on the "Application Documents" tab to the right.
2. You will submit copies of these documents to the online OPT application for our office for review. You also will be asked to provide the contact information of your academic advisor in the online OPT request form. Once you submit your form, your academic advisor will receive an e-mail to complete their form. Their form will ask basic questions about your academic program. We cannot process your OPT application until your academic advisor completes their form. It is your responsibility to ensure your academic advisor is aware they will need to complete this form.
3. Our office will review the documents and issue you a new I-20 for the OPT application to USCIS. This process takes 5-7 business days.
4. You will receive an e-mail from the ISSS advisor that has processed your OPT I-20 with instructions for the next steps.
5. You will mail the OPT application documents along with the new OPT I-20 to USCIS.
6. USCIS will receipt your application within 2 to 4 weeks. You will receive a receipt notice in the mail with a case number.
7. USCIS will process your application in approximately 1-5 months (processing times vary), you can check the status of your application online and see average processing times online here (choose I765 under form type and Potomac Service Center until field office).
8. Once USICS approves your application, you will receive an approval notice and an EAD (employment authorization document) card in the mail. The EAD is your proof of work authorization for your future employer.
Below is a list of the required documents you will need for your OPT application. Please prepare these documents first, then you will upload copies of these documents online (or drop them off at ISSS) for our office to review:
- Form I‐765: Please download and complete the pdf version of the I-765 form from the USCIS website so we can check your responses before you file: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765, do not click "file online" for the form, the pdf version of the form is further down on the webpage. After our office has reviewed this application and issued you the OPT I-20 you can choose to file the I-765 online at the USCIS website or by mail.. For the eligibility category question on the I-765, it is (c)(3)(A) for pre-completion OPT.
- Form G-1145: See Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance - this form is optional but recommended)
- Photocopies of ALL previously issued Forms I‐20. If you are missing any forms’ I‐20 you need to write a letter to the USCIS explaining what happened to it. Address the letter “To whom it may concern”.
- Academic advisor form: you can find this on the ISSS website: http://www.temple.edu/isss/employment/documents/OPTAdvisorForm.pdf
- Application fee (currently $410.00) - You may pay the fee with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Make sure the date on the check is written as “Month/Day/Year”; *DO NOT HAND IN YOUR APPLICATION FEE PAYMENT TO ISSS
- Obtain two passport‐style photos; 2”x2”, white background, including shoulders and up (For guidelines, go to: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/photos/photos.html)
- Submit a copy of Form I‐94 (Can be found online: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home#section)
- Copy of any previous EAD cards received (front and back of card). You would only have an EAD card if you applied for some type of employment authorization before (not CPT).
- Copy of your academic history at Temple (available through TuPortal, Self-Service Banner; not required for STEM extensions).
- Copy of Transcripts from ALL US schools that you have attended (originals are not required, print‐outs and copies are fine). If you’ve only attended Temple, then just submit the Self-Service Banner academic history.
- Copy of your F‐1 visas
- Copy of most recent entry stamp (if you received one, this should match the date on your I-94).
- Copy of your unexpired passport photo and passport validity page(s). The passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of application. If your passport will be expiring less than 6 months from now, you must apply to renew it and submit proof you have applied to renew your passport with the OPT application.