OPT Application Instructions
- The earliest you can apply for OPT is 90 days before your "completion date."
- The latest date the USCIS will accept your application is 60 days after your completion date.
- OPT applications must be submitted to USCIS within 30 days of receiving an OPT I-20 from the Berkeley International Office.
What is Your Completion Date?
For OPT purposes, this is the day you complete your final degree requirements:
- Undergraduate Students-
Your completion date is considered to be the last day of final exams of the semester your degree requirements are fulfilled.
- Graduate Students-
Your completion date is the day on which all degree requirements are fulfilled, such as filing your thesis or dissertation in the Graduate Division. If you do not have a research component to your degree program (such as in the MBA program or other professional schools), your completion date would be the last day of final exams of the semester your degree requirements are fulfilled.
Points To Remember
- One year of OPT is available after completing each higher level degree program.
- is allowed for no more than 90 days.
- The employment may occur anywhere in the U.S.
- A job offer is not required to apply for OPT. However, once you find a qualifying job, you must notify
Berkeley International Office. See address/employer reporting instructions here.
- No special permission is required to change employers or terminate your employment. However, you must notify
Berkeley International Office of your unemployment and/or new employer's information at http://ssu.berkeley.edu/
- During the period of OPT, a student continues in F-1 status, since OPT is considered to be part of the program of study.
- The average USCIS processing time to issue the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is 90 days. However, please visit the USCIS Processing Times website for the most up to date processing times. There is no way to expedite an application.
- Once you complete your degree, you cannot work on-campus or off-campus until you have the EAD in your possession
and your chosen start date has arrived.
- Once the OPT application is submitted to the USCIS, it is very difficult to change or cancel the application.
- OPT can only be extended beyond 12 months (for up to 17 additional months), if you meet the following three conditions:
- OPT is available both before and after completing the degree program.
A Note on Health Insurance
Students who complete a program of study are no longer eligible to purchase the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). The Tang Center has information about insurance plans you can purchase after graduation.
17-Month Extensions of OPT
Students who have received a U.S. Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, are eligible for a one-time, 17-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 29 months). See our web pages on the 17-month Extension for more information.