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What Is OPT? Know More About Optional Practice Training

What Is OPT

Every year, over one million students from all over the world attend colleges and universities in the United States for their higher education. Optional Practical Training enables graduates to gain valuable hands-on experience while immediately contributing their education and training to the United States. Without OPT, most international graduates would be forced to leave the United States. To protect international graduates’ OPT options is critical to attracting, educating, and retaining promising talent from around the world.

Work experience is extremely valuable in today’s increasingly competitive job market. Optional Practice Training allows you to work in the United States for up to three years and gain real-world experience that will help you stand out to employers. So let us understand what is OPT and what does OPT mean.

What Is OPT? 

Optional Practical Training is an advantage available to international students with F-1 visas who are enrolled in or have completed a degree programme in the United States. This job can be used-

  • Prior to the completion of studies during an annual vacation or leave term
  • After the completion of studies

The actual date that you complete all requirements for a programme of study is defined as completion of studies (such as the date of your final exams, or submission of your thesis or dissertation). It is not always assumed to be the date of graduation ceremonies. So now that we have a better understanding of OPT, let us address the question: What is an OPT Visa and What are its types?

What Is OPT?

What Is An OPT Visa And What Are Its Types?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is short-term work directly related to an F-1 student’s major field of study. Eligible students can apply for up to 12 months of Optional Practice Training employment authorization before or after completing their academic studies (pre-completion) (post-completion). However, all pre-completion OPT periods will be deducted from the available post-completion OPT period. All Optional Practice Training must be related to your major field of study. If you are an F-1 student, it is necessary to understand what is OPT and what the eligibility criteria are.

If you are an F-1 student, you may be eligible for OPT in one of two ways:

  • Pre-completion OPT: After you have lawfully been enrolled full-time for one academic year at a college, university, conservatory, or seminary that has been approved by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to accept F-1 students, you may submit an application to take part in pre-completion OPT. You can meet the “one full academic year” criterion even if you were in a different non-immigrant status during that time; you are not required to have had F-1 status for the whole academic year.

If pre-completion Optional Practice Training is permitted for you, you may work (20 hours or less per week) while classes are in session. When schools are not in session, you are permitted to work full-time.

  • Post-completion OPT: After finishing your studies, you can submit an application to take part in post-completion OPT. If post-completion Optional Practice Training is approved, you must work full-time (at least 20 hours per week) or part-time.

STEM OPT Extension

If you have a degree in certain science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields, you may apply for a 24-month extension of your post-completion OPT employment authorization if you meet the following criteria:

  • An f-1 student who received a STEM degree from a programme listed on the STEM Designated Degree Program List (PDF)
  • Employed by a company that has enrolled in and is using E-Verify
  • Based on your STEM degree, you will be granted an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization

Who Is Eligible For OBT? 

  • Anyone with an F-1 visa who is enrolled in an academic programme at a university in the United States for at least one year may apply. Although there are three types of student visas, the majority of international students studying at a US college or university will hold an F-1 visa
  • You do not need to have a job offer to apply for OPT, which is an advantage over other temporary work permits in the United States, such as the H-1B visa, which must be sponsored by a named employer
  • Before you begin working, you will need an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
  • The international student services team at your university can advise you on when and how to apply for OPT and your EAD

Applying For OPT Visa

While applying for Optional Practice Training visa, generally, you must:

  • Request that your academic institution’s designated school official (DSO) recommend the Optional Practice Training. Your DSO will make the recommendation by signing your Form I20, Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, and noting it in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
  • Fill out Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and submit it to USCIS along with the required fee and supporting documentation, as specified in the form instructions

We hope that by reading our blog you have a better understanding of what is OPT, you can also read our other blogs that might interest you as well:

All You Need To Know About Student Finance Abroad

Top 10 Companies That Sponsor H1B Visas In 2022

Complete Guide To Switching From A H1B To Green Card

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What Is OPT

What Is OPT? Know More About Optional Practice Training

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