OPT, Optional Practical Training, is the temporary employment directly related to an international student’s field of study. F-1 OPT will work for international students who have been full-time students for at least one academic year. This program is meant for students who are currently maintaining F-1 status.
During OPT there will be no change in the status of the students who hold F-1 visas and at the end of the OPT request process, applicants will be issued employment authorization documents by the USCIS.
International students who hold F-1 visas, to apply for OPT must fulfill few requirements. They need to submit the required forms and establish that they are eligible by submitting documentary evidence.
The OPT of the F-1 students must be related to their courses of study. The work that the F-1 students look forward to perform while on F-1 OPT must relate to their areas of study. If they seek to start businesses, most of the work they do must be related to their studies.
International students can either engage in OPT while attending school or after they graduate. They can also combine both and engage in OPT while attending school and after graduating. F-1 students can engage in OPT for 12 months, at each level.
Students who choose pre-completion OPT can work only for 20 hours per week and will be permitted to work full time during their annual vacation. A 17 month STEM extension will be granted to students who graduate with STEM degrees and who are in approved post-completion OPT period, based on their STEM degrees.
International students who hold F-1 visas, will have to receive a recommendation from their Designated School Officials to pursue OPT. They must then apply for employment authorization documents. They need to file their applications with the USCIS around 90 days ahead of the end-dates of their courses and not later than 2 months after the end dates of their courses of study.