A student in F-1 status may apply for Pre-OPT and begin employment prior to the completion of their program. Students engaged in Pre-OPT can work a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session*. During annual vacations and while school is not in session, students may do Pre-OPT full or part-time.
*If you are authorized to work on-campus and also choose to engage in Practical Training (CPT or Pre-OPT), per ICE regulations the total number of hours for the Practical training and on-campus employment can NOT exceed twenty hours while school is in session. You may work full-time during periods when school is not in session or during your annual break.
Pre-OPT employment does NOT constitute a reason for a student to be enrolled in a reduced course load.
Time granted to a student for Pre-OPT is deducted from the 12 months of Post Completion OPT eligibility. For each month of Pre-OPT that the student is authorized for full-time employment, a month is deducted from the students Post Completion OPT. For every two months of Pre-OPT that the student is authorized for part-time employment, one month is deducted from the students Post Completion OPT.
NOTE: Other employment categories, such as Curricular Practical Training or Off-Campus employment based on Economic Hardship may be better choices than Pre-OPT, provided that the student qualifies for the type of employment. These categories permit the student to work while still enrolled, yet in most cases, the student will still be eligible for the full 12 months of Post Completion OPT.
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