Pre-completion OPT is Optional Practical Training you use before finishing your program of study. Remember, OPT is employment that is directly related to your major field of study and is only for students in F-1 status.

The information contained on this page is for general information purposes only. Due to frequent government updates, NYU OGS may make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on this page at any time without prior notice.

Please note, these directions are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services ultimately provides the decision on your OPT application. It is your responsibility, as the OPT applicant, to ensure that your OPT application is accurate and complete before you submit it to the US government. Incomplete applications could result in a delay in processing time or denial. NYU in no event shall be held liable for any delay, denial, or mistake on your OPT application.

How Many Hours Can You Work per Week?

Fall or Spring Semester

You can get authorized for pre-completion OPT on a part-time basis only (20 hours or less per week) during the fall or spring semester while engaged in course work.

Master's Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

If you are working on a master's thesis/project or doctoral dissertation following completion of all coursework you can get authorization for either a part-time or full-time basis (anything more than 20 hours per week).


During holiday periods (such as the summer and winter breaks) you can be authorized for either a part-time or full-time basis (anything more than 20 hours per week).  

When to Apply

If you have been a full-time student for MORE than one academic year in the US and are currently in F-1 status, you may apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before you want your OPT to start. If you are in F-1 status and have been a full-time student for LESS than one academic year, you may apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before you will have completed one academic year. However, your OPT cannot begin until you have completed the full academic year.

How to Apply

Understand the Process and Prepare the Needed Documents

Read all the steps in this process carefully. Then gather and prepare all the items you need for your OPT application. Each document you print for your application should be single sided. 

Attend an Employment Workshop

Get tips on making a successful OPT application and reminders on what you needed to do while on OPT to maintain your F-1 status.


Determine Whom in Your Academic Department Can Confirm Your Academic Progress and Completion Date

You will need to provide the name and NYU email address of your academic advisor, department chair, program coordinator, or faculty advisor in your academic department to the OGS in order to apply for OPT.


Submit a Request to the OGS for an I-20 Recommending You for OPT

Complete the request for an OPT recommendation I-20 for Pre-Completion OPT.

In order to submit your request successfully, you will need to upload scanned copies of your:

  • completed Form I-765 (review our I-765 explained page for tips to complete the form). Please note, we will review and provide final recommendations on completing the I-765. Complete as much as you can when submitting your request for the OPT-recommended I-20.
  • I-94 record,
  • passport photo/biography page,
  • and your previous employment authorization document (EAD) if you've previously been authorized for work in the US.

If you have any problems submitting the online request, review our troubleshooting tips.

Once the OGS receives both your request for an OPT recommendation I-20 and the electronic confirmation from your department, it takes 7 business days to process your request. We will send an email to your NYU email address when your new I-20 is ready.


Pick-Up Your New I-20

Pick up your new I-20 at the OGS once you receive an email telling you that it's ready. You will receive further instructions with your new I-20.

Due to the COVID-19 situation and based on recent guidance from the US government, we are currently issuing digitally signed I-20s and emailing them to students at their NYU email account.


Review Your I-20 and OPT Application

Once you have received an updated I-20 with the OPT recommendation, make sure to sign your new I-20, photocopy it, and include the photocopy of your new I-20 with the rest of your OPT application materials (see the list of materials in the first step AND in the instructions you get with your new I-20). Make any suggested changes to your OPT application as recommended by an OGS advisor, then come to one of our review sessions to have your application reviewed by OGS staff before you send it off to the US government.

Upcoming OPT Application Review Sessions


Send Your OPT Application to the US Government

Send your application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services by FedEx or UPS. USCIS must receive it within 30 days of the date your I-20 was issued.

You can use eShipGlobal to get your shipping label at a discounted rate. Learn how to use eShipGlobal. Register with eShipGlobal to get started.

If the address on your I-765 is in the New York City area, mail your application to:
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

If you live in a different region of the US, confirm with the OGS the address you should send your OPT application to.

If you decide NOT to apply for or use your OPT, you must notify us. If you fail to notify us, your ability to work in the US in the future could be denied.


Confirm the US Government Received Your Application and Track Your Application Status

Receive an electronic receipt from USCIS within 2-3 weeks and a paper receipt within 3-5 weeks.


Set Up Informed Delivery With the US Postal Service


Once USCIS sends you any information regarding your application, they will send official notification to you through the US postal service.

Informed delivery allows you to digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon. Learn more about how to set up your informed delivery account.