General OPT FAQ

1.  What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training  (OPT) is a kind of temporary employment for undergraduates and graduates, who are on F-1 visa for a period of 12 months. For this, the students must receive authorization from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
2.  What is the eligibility criteria for OPT?
In order to be eligible for OPT training; you must be enrolled in full-time programs for at least a period of one complete academic year. You can start on OPT only if:
  • You’ve completed all the courses and are currently, involved in dissertation or thesis
  • You’ve completed your course of study
3.  What are the variations in OPT?
OPT is usually of two kinds:
  • Pre-completion
  • Post-completion
Pre-completion OPT: Here, you can start your OPT once, you are on your thesis or dissertation; before this, you must have completed all the courses.
Post-Completion OPT: You can start your Post-completion OPT once, you’ve completed your graduation or under graduation.
4.  What is OPT STEM?
STEM provides an extension of 17 months to your 12 month OPT, so you’ve a total of 29 months. In order to be eligible for STEM you must have majors in:
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
5.  I was earlier involved in Curricular Practical Training (CPT); now, Am I eligible for OPT?
Yes, you are eligible for OPT as long as you aren’t involved in CPT for 12 months or more. However, the duration will be deducted from the CPT you’re already involved; you can work under OPT for the remaining months available from the total duration of 12 months.

OPT Application Process

1.  How to apply for OPT?
OPT application is a three step process, which includes:
  • Completing your OPT application – I-765 Form
  • Submitting your OPT application and OPT I-20 request form to your international student service center
  • Picking up your OPT application and supporting documents from student center and mailing it to USCIS
2.  What documents do i need to submit my OPT application?
You’ll need the following documents to submit OPT application:
  • Completed I-765 form
  • Two passport photos
  • Photocopies of all earlier I-20s
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Photocopy of F-1 visa page
  • Photocopy of your I-94 card (front and back)
3.  What kind of supporting documents do i need from college/university to submit my OPT application to USCIS?  
Upon receiving your completed OPT application, your International Students Service Center will verify your application and provide you with a list of documents that are missing from your application. Apart from this, your students center will also provide you an updated, new I-20 with OPT endorsement on the back page. Sign the new I-20 at the bottom of the page and mail it to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 
4.  How do i apply for OPT STEM Extension?  
To Apply for STEM Extension you must:
  • Submit the STEM extension I-20 Request form to International students’ service center; this is to provide OPT STEM recommendation on new I-20.   
  • Submit the completed OPT application— I-765 Form to International student service center for verifying any missing links.
  • Mail the Final STEM OPT application to USCIS with supporting documents and application fees.
5.  How do i know that USCIS has received my OPT application?
You will receive an acknowledgement – Form I-797, within 30 days of receiving the application. Plus, if you wish to receive an e-notification, you must fill out the Form G-1145.
6.  How do i track status of my OPT application? 
You’ll have a file number on your receipt. This file number helps you track the status of your OPT application at
7.  Do i request any job offer to apply for OPT?
Initially, no employment offer is needed to apply for OPT.  However, when students apply for OPT STEM they need a job offer to qualify for the 17 month extension. 
8.  For filing an OPT application, do employers need to pay any processing fee?
 No. The employer doesn’t have to pay any processing fee for filing an OPT application. The student makes the entire processing fee for OPT application.

 OPT Time Limits 

 1.  When do i apply for OPT?
For OPT application, you must apply no more than 90 days before your graduation date and USCIS should receive your  application no later than 60 days of your graduation.
2.  When can i apply for OPT STEM Extension?
For OPT STEM application, you must apply no more than 120 days before the OPT end date.  Or, you can apply before your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) expires. However, if the application is pending, you can still work up to 180 days.

Maintaining Status During OPT

 1.  When I am an Optional Practical Training (OPT), what is my visa status?   
While you start working on OPT, for a period of 12 months, you’ll still be on an F-1 visa. Since, OPT comes under F-1 visa.
2.  What are the limitations on the unemployment period while you’ll filed for an extension?
You’ll receive an additional 30 days as an unemployment period, apart from the 90 days that were granted during the first 12 months of OPT. This provides an aggregate of 120 days in the total duration of 29 months.

Travel During Optional Practical Training 

1. While I am on OPT can I travel outside the USA?
Yes. But, in order to re-enter the USA you will need the following documents:
  • A valid I-20, signed by the International Student Advisor (not older than 6 months)
  • A Valid Passport with a valid F-1 visa.
  • Employment Authorization document (EAD)
Plus, it is always good to carry a letter from your employer, under whom you’re working on OPT.
2.  I’m on OPT and need to travel outside the USA. Do I require a new visa stamp on my passport, if the older one has expired?  
You will need a new visa stamp on passport, if you are:
  • Applying for a visa while in Canada
  • A national of Syria, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, or North Korea
  • Travelling anywhere except Canada or Mexico for more than 30 days
However, Canada and Mexico are exempted from this case; if your stay is less than 30days in these countries you could re- enter the US provided you’ve:
  • The expired F-1visa stamp
  • Valid Passport
  • I-94 card
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • I-20 signed by the International Students Officer (within last 6 months)
  • Your employment proof  
3.  While on OPT year, is it essential to get the travel line signed on I-20?
Yes. While on OPT year, you must have the travel line signed every six months, if you need to travel outside the USA. 
4.  What are the documents required to re-enter the US while on STEM Extension?
In order to re-enter the US, while on STEM, the following documents are needed:
  • Valid F-1 visa stamp
  • Valid Passport
  • STEM Extension EAD
  • STEM EXTENSION I-20 with travel endorsement on page 3 (not more than 6 months old)
  • Employment offer from the current company
5.  Can I travel outside the US, while I am still waiting for my STEM extension card?
No, it is not advisable to travel outside the US, while you’ve applied for 17 month extension and waiting for the new OPT STEM card to arrive.

General OPT Employment 

1.  What are the number of working hours for a student on OPT?
Students, who are on OPT can work full time i.e. 21 or more hours.  However, there are no hard-and-fast immigration rules on the number of working hours of an OPT student. If needed, a student may work for more than 40 hours a week.
2.  On OPT, how long can a student work?
Opt is initially for 12 months and after that students can apply for OPT STEM (applicable only to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics majors) for 17 month extension. Students can only work till their last legal work date - OPT end date. And, students cannot work during their grace period. 
3.  Can students switch employers during their OPT year?
Yes, students can change employers as long as their job matches their field of study.

Employers on

1.  Why should I choose OPTGHAR for my Employment?
OPTGhar is a single stage for both students as well as employers. Students can apply for: 
  • OPT/CPT jobs
  • Entry Level jobs
  • Internships
  • H-1B jobs
2.  How can employers help OPT students on OPTGhar?
Employers provide multiple benefits to students on OPTGhar. They: 
  • Post multiple jobs so that students can apply for various jobs
  • Post training and placements
  • Search for talented candidates with right skill and offer them employment.
  • Participate in discussion with the students through blogs.
  • Post H1B /Green Card (GC) adverts

Online Trainers on 

1.  On which courses do online trainers in OPTGhar offer training?
Trainers on OPTGhar offer training on multiple courses. To name a few:
  • .Net
  • Java
  • SAP
  • Software Testing
  • Oracle
Get the full list of courses here. 
2.  How can online trainers help students on OPTGhar?
Trainers at OPTGhar  offer various benefits to the students. They:
  • Post online training and placement opportunities
  • Search for training aspirants and provide them with customized training
  • Provide Career Guidance to the students and make them interview ready
  • Encourage students to participate in blogs to discuss the career opportunities.
  • Send messages to training aspirants.