“Students in a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree program who have completed all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent) are eligible to apply for OPT.” [CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A)(3)]
Evaluating the options: Pre-completion OPT v. Post-completion_OPT
Master’s or Doctoral Students with only Thesis, Final Project or Dissertation Remaining:
A “course complete” (only thesis, final project or dissertation remaining) student may either apply for pre-completion OPT or post-completion OPT while completing the thesis or equivalent/dissertation. A Master’s student’s final project is equivalent to a thesis or dissertation.
Pre-Completion OPT for course complete students
Post-Completion OPT for course complete students
IMPORTANT NOTE: If a course complete student on post-completion OPT does NOT finish his or her degree during the 12 months of Post-completion OPT, he or she is NOT eligible for a program extension. This means the student would need to prepare to change status, change education level and/or transfer to a new U.S. school, or depart the country prior to the end of the 60-day OPT grace period.
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Last Updated: 3/9/11