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OPT Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for either pre or post-completion OPT a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Students must have been enrolled full-time for at least nine months (two consecutive semesters)
  • Students must have completed at least one semester at NC State
  • Students must be maintaining lawful F-1 status
  • Students must be in good academic standing
  • Students must be making normal progress toward their degree
  • Students must obtain the recommendation of their Academic Advisor (for undergraduate students) or Director of Graduate Program (for graduate students)
  • Students must not have already engaged in full-time OPT for that particular level of study
  • Students must have not worked for 12 months or more on full-time Curricular Practical Training 
  • Students must have obtained a new Form I-20 with OPT recommendation from OIS
  • Students must file their OPT application while they are physically present in the U.S.
  • Students must seek employment directly related to their major

What is Pre-Completion OPT?

Pre-completion OPT is an employment authorization that students may be eligible to apply for during their academic program. In order to be eligible for pre-completion OPT you must meet all the above listed eligibility criteria. Additionally, although you are not required to have a job offer to apply, we strongly encourage you to have a job offer to ensure you use the benefit. Pre-completion OPT can only be used if your requested OPT start and end dates will be during your academic program.

Any pre-completion OPT time used during the student’s program will be deducted from the student’s post-completion OPT eligibility time. This time is subtracted at half-time for part-time authorization. For example, if you used 2 months of full-time pre-completion OPT, you would have 10 months of post-completion OPT available upon graduation. If you used 2 months of part-time pre-completion OPT, you would have 11 months of post-completion OPT available upon graduation. For this reason, pre-completion OPT is rare as students often choose to save their OPT authorization until after they complete their program.

If you believe that you will need to apply for pre-completion OPT or are not sure which authorization you may be eligible for, please make an appointment with your OIS advisor to discuss your options and the application process.

CPT Impacts on OPT

If you engage in more than 11 months and 29 days of full time CPT, you become ineligible for OPT. Please note that this only applies to FULL-time CPT, not part-time CPT.