Optional Practical Training (OPT)

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OPT is offered to students either during (pre-completion OPT), or after (post-completion OPT), the completion of the program. Similar to CPT, you must obtain approval from your DSO, get your new I-20, and then apply for something called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS. However, unlike the CPT, you don’t obtain a course credit on an OPT.*

​stats​On pre-completion OPT, you can work for up to 20 hours a week, since your program is still in session. On post-completion OPT, it’s the opposite. You have to work at least 20 hours a week in a field that is directly related to your field of study.

Stem OPT Extension

If you remember, in the chapter Choosing the Universities, we introduced something called a STEM OPT extension. Let’s recap once more: if you are an F1 student earning a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM), you may be eligible for a 24-month extension to your employment authorization in the U.S.

You can find a list of all STEM verified majors on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.*

​think​If you’re wondering why someone would apply for a STEM OPT Extension, here’s why:

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