Optional practical training is a type of employment authorization that allows international students on F1 student visa get work experience in their field of study. In other words, if you have F1 Student Visa, you may work during or after completing your study program and gain valuable experience in your major field of study. The time duration that the USA allows for OPT is 12 months.
You can take advantage of OPT both during and after completing your study program. Consider it as 1000 rupees that you have in your pocket while you are watching a movie at a multiplex. You can spend some or whole amount during or after the show. Naturally, the amount you would spend during the show will not be available to you after the show. The same applies to Optional Practical Training. The months spent on OPT during the study program get deducted from the total allowed time.
If you decide to complete your OPT after completing your degree, you will have to complete it without any breaks. And If you plan to take a master course after completing your bachelor degree, you may again get 12 months of OPT. Below is the number of working hours that you get if you participate in OPT during or after completing your study program.
If your full-time study program at a US university or college is at least 1 year long, you can apply for OPT while completing your program. If you are allowed to participate in OTP, you can work part-time for up to 20 hours in a week and full-time during summer vacations and semester breaks.
You may participate in OPT after completing your study program. If you are allowed to participate after completing your degree, you may work full-time or part-time (up to 20 hours per week). The condition of 20 hours only applies if you have a thesis or equivalent pending for submission.
You are enrolled full-time for at least one academic year
In case your degree is in any of the STEM fields, i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, then there is good news for you, you can extend your stay by 24 months. This extension period is also known as the STEM OPT Extension.
You can get 24 months extension if you
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