I am in H-4 status and am enrolled in university as a full-time student. To be eligible for OPT after I graduate, do I need to be enrolled full time in F-1 status for a full year?


Generally speaking, one of the requirements for OPT eligibility is that the individual must have been enrolled in a college or university on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year. The USCIS has clarified that, for pre-completion OPT, the one-full-academic-year requirement does not need to be completed while in F-1 status. If the individual completed the one-year-enrollment requirement in some other status that allowed full-time study, such as H-4, and all other requirements for pre-completion OPT are met, it typically is possible to change to F-1 status and be granted pre-completion OPT.

The USCIS has not specifically said the same rule applies for post-completion OPT. In practice, however, we generally have found that the USCIS applies this rule for both pre- and post-completion OPT. (31.Aug.2023)

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