What is OPT? Types of OPT
What is OPT

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary authorization of employment for graduates and undergraduates with F-1 visa status for a period of 12 months. This enables them to utilize their knowledge in getting practical training program and enhance their technical skills relevant to their field of studies. Students, who have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months or, who have completed their degrees are permitted to apply for OPT by USCIS.

What are the Types of OPT?

usually, an authorized F-1 student applying for OPT can choose from following two categories:

  • Pre-completion OPT
  • Post-Completion OPT

Pre-Completion OPT

F-1 students, whose I-20 program date has not expired, can apply for Pre-completion OPT. In order to be eligible for this, one must have been enrolled on their academic course for one full year. Students opting for pre-completion OPT can work part time, while their universities/schools are in session; this work experience must be related to their field of study. Nevertheless, students can work full time, when the universities/schools are not in session; an F-1 student can start pre-completion OPT only after receiving an approval from USCIS.

Post- Completion OPT

An F-1 student can start Post-Completion OPT directly related to his/her field of study, on completion of studies. Students can start their post-completion OPT only after receiving an approval from USCIS and after the issue of EAD. However, it should be noted that the periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the periods of Post-Completion OPT.

**Grace period after post-completion OPT

An Opt student has a grace period of 60 days after the post-completion CPT. In this period students can make extensions using STEM or H-1B. However, the applications have to be filed before the post-completion OPT expires.

Who is Eligible for OPT?

An F-1 student can receive OPT authorization by USCIS, if he/she has been rightfully enrolled on full-time courses for a period of one full academic year. Nonetheless, students who are enrolled in English language programs may not put up a one-year requirement.

OPT Extension with STEM

F1- Students, who have graduated from US Universities or Colleges, can receive an additional 17 month extension, if their course falls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) category. This brings their total Post-Completion OPT period to 29 months.

Following are the degrees that qualify of OPT extension:
  • Engineering/Engineering Technologies
  • Physical Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Life Sciences
  • Actuarial Sciences
  • Military Technologies

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