Pre-completion OPT

Pre-completion OPT allows you to receive up to 12-months of employment authorization for supplemental work experience related to your program of study, while actively enrolled in courses.

Basic Rules and Restrictions

  • Pre-completion OPT can only be used for F-1 students who have completed one academic year of continuous full-time enrollment in their program of study. Undergraduate students must have declared their major.
  • Authorized Pre-completion OPT will deduct time from Post-completion OPT.
    • Part-time Pre-completion OPT is deducted from Post-completion OPT at half rate. This means if you’re authorized for 180 days, only 90 days will be deducted.
  • Once authorized, you will not get back unused time. Use it or lose it.
  • All employment must relate to your program of study.
  • All in-person employment must be local to the surrounding Seattle area while class is in session.
  • All employment is limited to Part-time (20 hours/week) while class is in session. Authorization is set for either part or full time. You cannot freely switch between them.
  • Pre-completion OPT and on-campus employment limits are seen as one. You have 20 hours/week of employment time to use between them, and cannot go beyond when combined.
  • Employment cannot exceed your program end date.
  • ISS will not recommend Pre-completion OPT for the purpose of starting Post-completion OPT early. Your Pre-completion OPT must be a distinct training experience that concludes by your program end date.
  • If you wish to continue your practical training after your program end date, you will need to apply for Post-completion OPT.

Application Timeline

  • Eligible to apply 90 days before being enrolled for one academic year.
    • For example, If you started in Autumn quarter, you would be eligible to apply up to 90 days before the end of the following Spring quarter.
  • Request an OPT recommendation (a new I-20). The OPT request takes roughly 5 – 7 days.
  • Use your OPT recommendation to file an I-765 (using category C3A) with USCIS.
  • Receiving approval from USCIS takes roughly 90 days.
  • After receiving approval, you will be sent an Employment Authorization Document via USPS. This can take 1 – 2 weeks.


See our Pre-completion OPT application page for details on every step of the application.

Requirements & FAQ

See our Pre-completion OPT Requirements & FAQ page for everything you must know while on Pre-completion OPT.