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Pre-Completion OPT

Pre-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is employment authorized before the completion of a student's program of study. Students may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and more than 20 hours while school is not in session. For example, students may work beyond 20 hours per week during an authorized summer vacation term or during official school breaks.

If a student has a job offer in his/her field of study, but the work is not required for the student to make academic progress, and therefore would not qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), pre-completion OPT may be the best option.

A student may be approved for up to a total of 12 months of OPT, including pre-completion and post-completion. If, for example, a student is approved for 6 months of pre-completion OPT, he/she will only be eligible to apply for 6 months of post-completion OPT to work after graduation.

General guidelines

  • Student must be in lawful F-1 student status at the time of application
  • Student must have been enrolled in a full course of study for at least one academic year or will have met this requirement by the time the pre-completion OPT is requested to commence
  • Student must continue enrolling full time throughout the time spent on pre-completion OPT. It is not possible for a student to take a break from school in order to work on pre-completion OPT
  • Student must have not engaged in more than 12 months of full-time curricular practical training (CPT) during the current degree level
  • Student must have not been authorized for 12 months of OPT at the current degree level
  • Student does not need to have a pending job offer letter to apply for pre-completion OPT
  • Student may only engage in part-time employment (up 20 hours a week) while school is in session
  • Student may only engage in full-time employment, if the following applies:
    • A student's annual vacation term and/or during official school breaks
    • Doctoral student who has completed all formal coursework and is making normal progress towards his or her dissertation. However, note that students who are post-candidacy are also eligible for post-completion OPT, which may be a more beneficial option. We recommend students meet with an Immigration Coordinator before deciding which application to complete.

Important deadlines for pre-completion OPT

  • A student may file for OPT up to 90 days before he or she completes a full academic year.
  • The pre-completion OPT application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the immigration coordinator's signature on the properly endorsed Form I-20

Students interested in applying for pre-completion OPT, should do the following

  1. Attend an OPT Workshop
  2. Obtain and complete the Application Form – Pre-Completion OPT ( c ) ( 3 ) ( A )
  3. Return completed application form and supporting documentation to us for review during our posted walk-in advising hours
  4. Obtain an updated Form I-20 endorsed for pre-completion OPT
  5. Sign the updated Form I-20 (Number 11.) prior to making the photocopy to be included in your application packet
  6. Mail the completed application packet to USCIS within 30 days of the Form I-20 issuance date. Failure to do so will result in denial of the application

Student responsibilities while on pre-completion OPT

  • Student must continue to meet his or her reporting requirements
    • Report to their DSO within 10 days of:
      • Legal name changes
      • A change in residential or mailing address

After the pre-completion period has begun:

  • Student must provide us with a copy of his or her Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
  • Student must report the following details regarding employment held on pre-completion OPT:
    • Name of employer
    • Street address of employment
    • Start and end dates of employment

We are currently establishing a new process to enable a student on OPT to update his or her information with our office. A notification will be e-mailed and posted on oia.osu.edu. Until this information is posted, please contact an Immigration Coordinator at iss@osu.edu to report any of the above mentioned required information.