Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit of F-1 status that permits off-campus employment for the purpose of gaining practical experience in the student’s major field of study.
There are two types of OPT:
- Pre-Completion OPT: Permits off-campus employment for students to begin prior to the program completion date.
- Post-Completion OPT: Permits off-campus employment for students to begin after the program completion date.
Post-Completion OPT can be extended in only two ways:
- 24-Month STEM OPT Extension: A student in an active period of Post-Completion OPT who has completed a program in a STEM-designated field may be eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of OPT if both the student and the employer meets certain criteria.
- Cap-Gap Extension: A student in an active period of Post-Completion OPT who is the beneficiary of a cap-subject H-1B petition will be granted an automatic extension of OPT, if the petition is accepted by USCIS and it requests a change of status within the U.S.