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“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)]

A “course-complete” (only thesis, final project or dissertation remaining) student may apply for post-completion OPT while completing the thesis or equivalent/dissertation. A master’s student’s final project is equivalent to a thesis or dissertation.

Post-Completion OPT for course-complete students:
  • May work full time.
  • Must be registered for thesis, final project or dissertation and certified as a full-time student by the Graduate School for each semester or term until they graduate. Will be eligible for the cap-gap extension if approved for H-1B.
  • May apply for the STEM extension if they are otherwise eligible.
  • Will be subject to the unemployment provisions.
  • Will be unable to receive an extension of their program end date if they do not graduate by the end date of their Post-Completion OPT.

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: 11/7/18