OPT Information Session

Optional Practical
What is
• Optional Practical Training (OPT):
Temporary employment that is directly related
to a F-1 student’s major area of study
• OPT is F-1 status
• Pre-completion OPT: Applicable to students
who intend to do a paid practical training while
they are pursuing degree
• Post-completion OPT: Applicable to students
who intend to do a paid or non-paid practical
training after they complete program of study
(granted for 12 months per degree level)
• STEM extension OPT: A 17-month extension
of OPT for students with STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
What is OPT?
• Cap Gap Extension: Allows certain
students with pending or approved H-1B
petitions to remain in the U.S. in F-1 status
until the start date of their approved H-1B
employment period, even if the OPT
authorization and/or F-1 grace period
would have otherwise expired before
October 1.
• H1-B: visa that allows US companies to
employ foreign workers in specialty
occupations that require theoretical or
technical expertise in specialized fields
such as in architecture, engineering,
mathematics, science, and medicine.
 Student must have enrolled in a degree
program for a minimum of 1 year prior to
Eligibility &
 There is no job offer required prior to
 Student may apply even if visa has expired
 Student’s passport must be valid
 Student must remain registered for a fullcourse of study while engaged in Precompletion OPT (except during summer
and winter break)
 Student can submit OPT application to USCIS anytime
between 90 days before through 60 days after your program
completion date.
 Program completion date is NOT graduation day; it is the day
student completes all program requirements.
OPT Dates
 USCIS needs to receive and key in OPT application
information in their system before the 61st day of program
completion date.
 OPT start date can be anytime within 60 days after program
completion date.
 USCIS typically takes 60- 90 days to approve OPT
application. During their busiest time (May-October), they
often take longer than 90 days. Student may wait in the U.S.
even if her/his 60 day grace period is over.
 Student must start working within 90 days of OPT start date.
 Example:
OPT Dates
 Job has to directly relate to F1 student’s major field of study.
 Full-time, multiple full-time, part-time, multiple part-time, unpaid, volunteer work are all OK to maintain OPT status as
long as the cumulative work hours is 20 hours/week or more.
 If one job is secured to maintain OPT status, F1 student can
take volunteer work that is not related to major field.
 All paid jobs have to relate to major field.
 Part-time non-matriculated, no-certificate program is OK
during OPT.
 OPT has to stop when F1 student enrolls in matriculated or
certificate course.

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