What is Optional Practical Training, or OPT?

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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)

New threat looms over OPT for F-1 visa students as lawsuit challenges extension of work permit (August 30, 2016)

Judge rules in favor of F-1 visa students on OPT, tosses out appeal by tech workers’ union (May 13, 2016)

Tech workers’ union argue in court to prevent F-1 visa holders to work on OPT (May 5, 2016)

From May 10, 2016, STEM F-1 visa students can work for 3 years under OPT (March 10, 2016)

Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions plan to end OPT for F-1 visa students, restrict H-1B visa (March 1, 2016)

F-1 visa STEM students will be given OPT for 3 years (February 9, 2016)

Chuck Grassley opposes DHS move to extend OPT to 6 years for students on F1 visas (June 9, 2015)

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)

Dolica Gopisetty: From aging out of H4 visa to AWS Summit panel, Dolica Gopisetty’s extraordinary journey (June 24, 2019)

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