PR and Career opportunities

A Complete Guide To Optional Practical Training For International Students

Kashyap Matani

OPT, or Optional Practical Training, is an employment opportunity for international students based in the USA. OPT gives you additional training in your chosen field in the form of paid work which can be part-time or full-time. Sounds easy, right? But unfortunately, the government in the US is not as easy as it is in India. The process gets complicated step by step when you move ahead with it. It is difficult, but it eventually happens though. OPT is available to F-1 status international students who have completed a minimum of one full academic year. Lets’ learn more about this in detail in this blog. 

Table Of Contents

Types Of Optional Practical Training

Now that you’re aware of optional practical training, you should know there are multiple different types. Here is the complete list:

  1. Pre- Completion OPT
  2. Post-Completion OPT
  3. 24-Month OPT Extension
  4. Cap-Gap OPT Extension

Benefits Of Optional Practical Training Program

Before you can go ahead to understand how to get started with optional practical training for international students, let’s analyse the benefits of this investment:

  1. Build your career- When you work in your dream country, you have the ability to build the skill set and knowledge required to pursue your career in the chosen field. The abroad workspace is considered great when considering starting your career from here. 
  2. Work with top brands- The jobs you will join in your dream country are all well-established brands. They have been in the market space for a long and are widely recognized. Good exposure at such companies is great for your career. 
  3. Settle in the country- Lastly, if the company you work for likes your work performance, chances are you can get a permanent job, making it easy to settle in there further. The PR process would be simpler for such students. 

When To Apply For OPT Optional Practical Training?

You must be confused about whether one should apply for OPT before or after graduation, right? So you can start your OPT before your program’s end date. This is what’s known as pre-completion OPT. You will still be required to limit yourself to 20 hours per week while you study (and you cannot legally supplement that with 20 more hours at another on-campus job). 

You will also lose 1 month of your approved post-completion OPT period for every two months of pre-completion OPT you complete. That means if you’re granted 12 months of OPT, and you work 4 months of it part-time before you graduate, you will have 10 months remaining to work full-time after you graduate.

Documents Required For Optional Practical Training

In order to apply for OPT, students must complete certain paperwork. Ensure the below is checked:

  • Form I-20 with DSO approval.
  • Valid passport.
  • Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
  • A check or money order for US $380.00 made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • 2 colour photos with white background taken within 30 days of your submission to the USCIS.


Multiple times, students get confused between OPT and CPT. When applying to your dream country, it is always important to understand the difference between the two. Here is a detailed overview:



OPT is a temporary authorization offered to students on an F1 visa to work in their related field for a period of a total of 12 months

CPT is a temporary work authorization provided to the students on an F1 visa, which is directly related to their majors for a period of a total 12 months. 

OPT is not employer specific and allows work, not an internship or co-op.

CPT is part of your major that allows students to work in a paid or unpaid internship, practicum, or cooperative (co-op) education program.

The duration of OPT is 12 months and can be extended up to 24 months

CPT can be done for up to 12 months

Students with OPT authorization can work with any employer across the USA.

Only those employers who are on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and I-20 lists can participate in CPT.

In the case of OPT authorization, students do not require any employment or job offer.

For CPT Jobs, students require an employment or job offer.

Suggested:OPT and CPT

Wrapping Up….

OPT has always been a convenient option for international students since it provides many career-related opportunities. Now that you know OPT, it’s time to apply for one. But before you do, you need to find a good university here to start the visa process. For assistance in choosing the best university, our Yocket counsellors can help you. 


Frequently Asked Questions About Optional Practical Training

Who is eligible for OPT optional practical training?

How long is an optional practical training program visa valid?

Why does an optional practical training program get rejected?

Can you work two jobs during the optional practical training program?

Is optional practical training a full-time job?

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