All you need to know about OPT.
The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows international students on F-1 visa to work temporarily temporary in the student’s major area of study. Students can receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization prior to completing their academic studies and/or after completing their studies (post-completion). If a student utilizes OPT before completing the studies, OPT will be deducted from the available post-completion OPT duration.
Students pursuing degrees in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] fields can avail a 24-month OPT extension, meaning they can work in the United States for up to 29 months.
Initially, STEM graduates were allowed to apply for a 17-month extension.
According to the USCIS website, an F-1 student can apply for the 24-extension, if the student:
- Received a STEM degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List (PDF),
- Is employed by an employer who is enrolled in and is using E-Verify, and
- Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on your STEM degree.
Students on M-1 visas can also apply for OPT under certain circumstances.
Read more about the OPT program on the USCIS website.
What are your options if H-1B visa is denied? (April 29, 2019)
F-1 visa STEM students will be given OPT for 3 years (February 9, 2016)
The fading charm of the F-1 student visa in Trump era (August 26, 2019)
Judge allows additional arguments on why the OPT program is lawful (July 3, 2019)