Post-Completion OPT-Eligibility

Am I eligible?

You must:

  • Be in lawful full-time F-1 status for full academic year
  • Be in good academic standing with the university
  • Have a valid passport
  • Have not had more than 12 months of full-time CPT
  • Have not previously had 12 months of post-completion OPT for the same level of degree

Can I apply for Post-Completion OPT more than once?

Potentially.  You are eligible for Post-Completion OPT at the completion of each higher academic level.  This means if you complete a Bachelor's degree, apply for OPT, and later complete a Master's degree, you will be eligible to apply for OPT again.  

When should I apply for OPT?

Application timeline

OPT Timeline

  • The earliest you can apply for OPT is 90 days before your I-20 end date
  • The latest you can apply for OPT is 60 days after your I-20 end date (only if you have not left the U.S.)
  • The end date is determined by the final quarter that you will be enrolled at Northwestern
  • The end date is the last official day of the quarter, not the last day of classes or the date of a graduation ceremony
  • If your I-20 will end after your final quarter of enrollment, we will automatically shorten the end date to reflect that change
  • We recommend you apply as early as possible!  As of spring quarter 2018, OPT takes 2.5 - 5 months to be approved by USCIS. You may check the USCIS processing time website. Select Form I-765 and the Potomac Service Center for up to date processing times for post-completion OPT.

Choosing your OPT start and end dates:

If your final quarter of registration is... And your I-20 currently expires on, or will expire on... You can choose an OPT start date as early as... Or you can choose an OPT start date as late as...
Fall 2018 12/15/18 12/16/18 2/13/19
Winter 2019 3/23/19 3/24/19 5/22/19
Law Spring 2019 5/9/19 5/10/19 7/8/19
Feinberg 2019 5/17/19 5/18/19 7/16/19
Spring 2019 6/15/19 6/16/19 8/14/19
Summer 2019 8/31/19 9/1/19 10/30/19
  • Do you already have a job offer?
  • Where are you in the job search process?
  • Still job searching?  Choose a later start date
  • Traveling? Consider your travel plans
  • Applying late? Choose a later start date
  • Not sure?  Contact your IO advisor or come in during walk-in hours!