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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Overview: Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for at most one year on a student visa without needing to acquire a work H-1B visa towards getting a practical training to complement their field of studies.

F-1 students are permitted a total of 12 months towards practical training, on being certified by the advisor of the usefulness of the work towards goals of the degree, which can be distributed between Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and OPT. M-1 students are also permitted to engage in post-completion OPT. They are entitled to one month of training for every four months of study, with a maximum length of six months.

STEM & OPT Extension::Students who have received a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics degree might be eligible for 17-month OPT extension. More about STEM and OPT Extension.



Unemployment Period in OPT The time spent without a qualifying job during post-completion OPT. Each day the student is not employed in a qualifying job is counted toward the limit on unemployment time. The limit is 90 days for students on post-completion OPT, including those with a cap-gap extension, except that students with a STEM OPT extension are given an additional 30 days of unemployment time for a maximum of 120 days. However it is unclear how this requirement is enforced by the universities.

Grace period The 60-day period of time given to F-1 Visa students after the completion of a program of study or an authorized period of post-completion OPT allowing the student time to prepare for departure from the United States, apply for a transfer to another SEVP-certified school, request a change of level to continue at the current school, or take steps to otherwise maintain legal status. Last Updated: 8/29/2014.


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