As an international student pursuing higher education in the United States. One of the most exciting opportunities available to you is Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT is a program that allows eligible students to gain practical work experience related to their field of study. It not only provides valuable professional exposure but also enhances your resume and increases your chances of securing employment in the United States.
In this comprehensive guide. We will explore everything you need to know about OPT program and how to make the most of this opportunity.
What is OPT?
OPT is a period of temporary employment authorization that allows F-1 students to work in the United States for up to 12 months (or 24 months for STEM graduates) after completing their academic program. It is intended to complement your education by providing practical training. And experience directly related to your major field of study.
To be eligible for OPT & CPT jobs . You must be in lawful F-1 status and have completed at least one academic year (typically nine months) of full-time study at a SEVIS-approved institution. You must also maintain good academic standing and have not exceeded 12 months of full-time CPT (Curricular Practical Training) during your current academic program.
To apply for OPT program , you must request an OPT recommendation from your designated school official (DSO) and submit Form I-765. Application for Employment Authorization, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Futhermore It is recommended to start the application process well in advance of your desired start date. As USCIS processing times can vary.
OPT Start Date and Duration:
You can start your OPT employment on or after the program end date listed on your Form I-20. But no later than 60 days after completing your program. Moreover, The maximum duration of OPT program is 12 months, and for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates, it can be extended for an additional 24 months.
During OPT, you have the flexibility to work for multiple employers. Engage in self-employment, or work as a volunteer or unpaid intern. However, it is important to ensure that the work is directly related to your field of study and that you comply with the reporting requirements associated with OPT employment.
As an OPT program participant, you are responsible for reporting any changes in your personal information, employment status, or address to your DSO within 10 days. Additionally, you must submit an annual self-evaluation and report your employer’s name, address, and employment start and end dates.
STEM OPT Extension:
If you are a STEM graduate and your employer is enrolled in E-Verify. You may be eligible for a 24-month extension of your OPT program. Lastly, This extension provides an opportunity to gain further practical training and increases your chances of obtaining an H-1B visa, H1 sponsorship or other employment-based visas.
Making the Most of OPT:
To maximize the benefits of OPT, consider the following tips:
- Start your job search early and utilize resources like career services and job boards.
- Network with professionals in your field through industry events, conferences, and online platforms.
- Polish your resume, tailor it to each job application, and highlight your OPT program experience.
- Gain additional skills and certifications through online courses or workshops.
- Stay updated on current trends and developments in your industry to remain competitive.
- Seek mentorship or guidance from professionals in your field to enhance your career prospects.
OPT provides a valuable opportunity for international students to gain practical work experience and enhance their career prospects in the United States. Lastly, By understanding the eligibility criteria, application process, and reporting requirements, you can unlock the full potential of OPT. Make