Whether you apply for pre-completion or post-completion OPT, you need to apply as early as possible because you need to have your work authorization card (EAD) to start working and to travel. We advise you to plan accordingly and submit your OPT application as early as possible as it can take 90 days or longer for USCIS to process it.
When to Apply for Pre-Completion OPT?
Pre-Completion OPT is for off-campus employment before graduation. You can apply as early as 90 days before your requested employment start date. If you do not know the exact date you will start working, you may choose the earliest date you hope to start working as your prospective start date and calculate your application timeline accordingly.
Pre-Completion OPT Sample Application Timeline
When to Apply for Post-Completion OPT?
Post-Completion OPT is for any type of work after graduation. If you are graduating, you can apply as early as 90 days before your program end date. For most students at Yale, the program end date is the Commencement date, but please check your I-20 to find out your actual program end date.
If your program end date is the Commencement date in May, the earliest you can apply for post-completion OPT is the end of February. The latest you can apply for OPT is 60 days after your program end date (your application must be received by USCIS by this date). Please note that if you do not apply for OPT and depart from the U.S. during the 60 day period (i.e. “grace period”), your eligibility for OPT ends upon your departure from the U.S.
Post-Completion OPT Sample Application Timeline