When to Apply for Optional Practical Training
You should apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) three to four months before you graduate. It currently takes the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 90-120 days (and sometimes longer) to issue the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The California Service Center will consider your request as early as 120 days before you graduate. If you will be graduating much later, the California Service Center will consider your request up to 120 days before you are scheduled to work.
You can apply for Optional Practical Training before you graduate. If you request a start date coincident with your graduation, your Optional Practical Training effective date could be either the date you complete your studies or the date your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), whichever is later.