Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.
STEM OPT Extension
Students who have earned degrees in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization if they:
Are an F-1 student who received a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List (PDF),
Are employed by an employer enrolled in E-Verify, and
Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on their STEM degree.
Types of OPT
All OPT must be directly related to the student’s major area of study. Students may participate in OPT in two different ways:
Pre-completion OPT: F-1 students may apply to participate in pre-completion OPT after they have been enrolled in school for one full academic year. Students who are authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT must work part-time while school is in session. They may work full time when the school is not in session.
Post-completion OPT: F-1 students may apply to participate in post-completion OPT after the completion of their studies. Students authorized for post-completion OPT are allowed to work part-time (at least 20 hours per week) or full-time.
Note: Practical training can be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis for one full academic year at a college, university, conservatory, or seminary that has been certified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to enroll F-1 students. The one full academic year requirement may be satisfied while in another nonimmigrant category, not just while in F-1 status. Students may participate in OPT both before and after completing their studies. However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.
Applying for OPT
Generally, student who wants to apply for OPT, must:
Request designated school official (DSO) at the academic institution to recommend the OPT. DSO will make the recommendation by endorsing Form I-20 and making the appropriate notation in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
Properly file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS, accompanied by the required fee and the supporting documentation as described in the form instructions.
Ref : http://uscis.gov
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including: alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. Source: [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]. CPT is available only prior to the completion of your degree program and you must have a job offer at the time of application. CPT employment may not delay completion of the academic program.
Curricular Practical Training Vs Optional Practical Training