OPT Vs H1B - Differences between OPT and H-1B
difference between opt and H1b

OPT Vs H1B - Differences between OPT and H-1B

H-1B visa is one of the most popular non-immigrant visas for foreign nationals. On the other hand, Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is a predominant working option among international students on F-1 visa. One, who has started working on OPT and H-1B, must understand the major differences between OPT and H-1B that are listed here:


The initial duration of OPT is 12 months. It can be extended for another 17 months with STEM OPT extension. On the contrary, H-1B has duration of 3 years. Also, it can be extended for another 3 years.

Applicant’s Intent

OPT is given to international students on F-1 visa hence, it requires non-immigrant intent. H-1B is a non-immigrant visa, where the H-1B workers can have dual intent of applying to Green Card.

Program of Study

Students on OPT jobs must have employment that is related to their field of study. Instead, foreign nationals working on H-1B don’t have any restriction on working on related field of study.

Employment Changes

H-1B is employer-specific and if an H-1B holder wants to change his/her job, he/she will have to look out for another H-1B sponsor. Job changes are possible on OPT too, but the process is rather simpler than H-1B process.

Grace Period

The total unemployment period for OPT, where the international students can remain unemployed is 90 days, distributed over the OPT period. And once, the full OPT is completed, OPT holders have 60 days to leave the US or change to another non-immigrant visa status. On the other hand, H-1B does not have any grace period and if the alien workers lose their employment, they lose their H-1B status too. Alien workers have to leave the US in 10 days once they lose their H-1B status.

Medicare and Social Security Taxes

H-1B authorized workers and their employers must pay the Medicare and Social Security taxes. Nevertheless, only resident aliens those are on OPT need to pay Social security and Medicare taxes; students who, graduate within first five years of their F-1 visa status are exempt from these taxes partially or entirely.

Visa Types

H-1B visa is a temporary working visa, which has no variants. However, there are other kinds of H visas – H-1A, H-2B, H-3 and H-4. There are two types of OPT— Pre-completion and post-completion.


H-1B employers must file H-1B petitions under strict proofs that the specific job pays at the prevalent wages and this application must receive an approval from Department of Labor. However, OPT employers don’t need to demonstrate any proof. It’s the responsibility of the employee to get an OPT job that is related to his/her field of study.

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