Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training

Pre- Completion OPT is temporary employment that takes places before completion of a student’s course of study (i.e. before the program end date on the I-20).

General Guidelines

  1. The pre-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
  2. An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT after he or she has been enrolled for one full academic year (fall and spring semester only).
  3. After completion of first academic year, the earliest the student can apply for OPT is 120 days before the desired start date of employment.
  4. Students authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT may work part-time or full-time
    Part-time: 20 hours or less per week while school is in session ;
    Full time: Over 20 hours per week when school is not in session e.g. summer, winter vacation and official school breaks.
  5. Part-time pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12-month post completion OPT limit at 50%. i.e. if you work 4 months using pre-completion OPT, you will have taken away 2 months of post-completion OPT, leaving you with only 10 months of post-completion OPT.

Difference between Pre-Completion and Post-Completion OPT

Pre-completion OPT

  • Days of unemployment are not counted
  • Not eligible for STEM Extension
  • Not eligible for "Cap Gap"
  • May extend the program, if needed

Post-completion OPT

  • Days of unemployment are counted
  • Eligible for STEM Extension
  • Eligible for "Cap Gap"
  • Cannot extend program