Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is one type of temporary work permission authorized by USCIS that permits off-campus employment in the student’s field of study to begin following graduation.
An F-1 international student is eligible to receive a total of 12 months of OPT at each degree level (e.g. Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral), which can be used either before (pre-completion) or after (post-completion) degree completion. Any portion of OPT used prior to degree completion is subtracted from the 12-month total. To apply for post-completion OPT, an eligible student must first request the post-completion OPT endorsement from their designated school official and then properly file the I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS.
Post-Completion OPT Eligibility
In order to be eligible to apply for Pre-Completion OPT, the following criteria must be met:
- Student has maintained valid F-1 student status for at least one academic year (language training and non-degree programs do not count toward one academic year requirement)
- Student has not been authorized for one year of full time CPT at the current degree level
- Student has not been authorized for 12 months of full-time OPT (Pre or Post) at the current degree level
An eligible F-1 student can apply for post-completion OPT within 30 days of the DSO endorsement on your Form I-20, and up to 90 days before, but no later than 60 days after your program end date.
- Begin the process early as gathering the necessary documents and requirements for your OPT application will take time.
- The OPT application can take several months to process and you cannot begin employment until authorized.
- Plan to apply 90 days before your graduation or defense date.
- USCIS Case Processing Times
Post-Completion OPT employment authorization must be adjudicated by USCIS, after receiving the DSO endorsement and prior to beginning employment. Interested students should plan ahead and refer to the USCIS Case Processing Times for an estimated wait time.
Knowing your program completion date is an essential part of the OPT process. It is recommended to speak with your academic advisor early to ensure you are on track to complete all academic requirements on time based on your academic program.
You will also be required to provide evidence supporting your eligibility to receive an OPT endorsement from your designated school official.
- A student’s program completion date is determined by the last day of classes per the university academic calendar or defense date.
- Obtain an official letter indicating fulfillment of degree requirements, signed by an academic advisor or department.
- Choosing your OPT start date is one of the most challenging parts of the application process
- Your OPT start date must begin within 60-days of your program completion date
- Your OPT end date will be 12-months after this date
- The earliest OPT start date you can select is the date following your program completion date
- The latest OPT start date is 60-days from your program completion date
- You can select your start date any day between these eligible dates
A student must secure the Post-Completion OPT endorsement from the designated school official prior to filing for OPT by completing the following actions.
- Determine your OPT start and end date, within your 60-day grace period following your program completion date.
- Log into the International Services Portal using your eCampus credentials and complete the request for your OPT DSO endorsement. You will need to indicate your OPT start and end date, and upload an official letter indicating fulfillment of degree requirements, signed by an academic advisor or department.
Once you receive your Post-Completion DSO endorsement, prepare your application for filing. Review the Checklist of Required Evidence and gather digital versions of all requirements to upload with your application.
- I-20 issued within 30-days with a Post-Completion OPT endorsement from your designated school official.
- Evidence of previously authorized CPT (CPT authorized I-20) or OPT (EAD card)
- Valid Passport with F-1 Visa
- A printout of your I-94 Arrival Document
- Recent Color passport-style photograph: Taken within 30-days on a white or off-white background measuring 2 x 2 inches, with your face measuring 1 inch to 1 3/8 inches from the chin to the top of your head. Your eyes should be between 1 1/8 inches and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the photo.
Once you have received your OPT endorsed I-20 from your designated school official, you must complete the following steps to file your application for Post-Completion OPT with USCIS within 30-days of the signature.
- Create a USCIS Online Account or Sign In to your already existing account
- Select File a Form Online, choosing the I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and using the Code: Pre Completion OPT – (c)(3)(B)
- Complete the I-765 Form, reading all form instructions for information on completing fields. USCIS will reject or deny your form if you leave a field blank or if you do not sign your form.
- Upload required evidence as indicated in clear and readable, not encrypted or passport-protected, in English, and in one of the following accepted file formats: JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, or TIFF.
- Review the summary of the information you provided in your application and digitally sign your application; type your full legal name (first, middle, and last names) in the space provided.
- Pay the filing fee using a valid credit or debit card, or provide your bank routing and checking account numbers to have money taken directly from your U.S. bank account.
- After you make your payment, your form will be submitted and you will receive a receipt notice that contains your receipt number. This is a unique number that applies to your specific case with USCIS. You can find your receipt number on your online account home page, and you can find a copy of your receipt notice under the Documents tab.
To check the status of your case, log in to your USCIS online account for details on the status of your case.
USCIS will notify you if you need to respond to a Request for Evidence (RFE). Log in to your USCIS online account and go to the Documents tab to view notices and respond to the RFE.
Once authorized for post-completion OPT, an international student is still on F-1 status and Adelphi University continues to oversee the SEVIS record. While on OPT, the rules and student responsibilities are different from during your academic studies.
Students should refer to the OPT Reporting Requirements for responsibilities while on post-completion optional practical training.
OPT Application Help
We understand you may have questions about applying for OPT. For assistance and to have your questions answered, please see the options available.