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...
Spring 2018 6/16/18 6/17/18 8/15/18
Law Spring 2018 5/3/18 5/4/18 7/2/18
Feinberg 2018 5/18/18 5/19/18 7/17/18
Summer 2018 9/2/18 9/3/18 11/1/18
Fall 2018 12/15/18 12/16/18 2/13/19
  • 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!