All About OPT for F1 Visa

All about OPT for f1 Visa

Studying abroad is a revitalizing and transformative experience for almost everyone. It builds up a sense of self-confidence and enhances our comprehensive understanding of the world. 

But when it comes to studying abroad and exploring options to have hands-on experience to build professional skills, it is important to be clear about the rules of OPT. Let’s read further to bring you all out of this entangled world of OPT.

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) as the name suggests provides eligible international students with F1 visas an option to gain a real perspective of the work environment and learn through experiential learning after the completion of the course in the US. It is not a visa but kind of a benefit helping to maintain visa status for up to 12 months after completing the professional course of study. 

Types of Optional Practical Training

A prerequisite for obtaining OPT is that it MUST be related to the course of study opted by the student. It is up to the student to obtain the best suited OPT as per their preference. The students can select from three kinds of OPT.


  1. Pre-completion OPT

    Pre-completion OPT allows the students enrolled in a college or a university certified by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to work alongside their course full-time or part-time, but restricted to 20 hours or fewer per week while school is in session or full time when school is not in session. Another available option is to work full time before submitting the thesis, with the condition of completing other credit requirements for the enrolled program.  


  2. Post-completion OPT

    The students may be eligible for post-completion OPT based on timely and successful submission of required documents. The employment can only begin after successful completion of their course.



    Science, Engineering, Technology or Mathematics (STEM) courses provide an additional benefit to the students applying for STEM OPT. The status of the valid F1 visas can be extended from a year up to 24 months if the students are enrolled in any of the programs listed here.

STEM OPT Extension beyond 12 months

Usually, after a long period of engaging in professional experience and completion of OPT duration, students look for an extension of OPT status up to 24 months. If eligible, they need to fulfil the following requirements-

  • Obtaining a STEM degree from a SEVP-certified college or university.
  • An agreement between the employer and the employee and a signed copy of the I-983 form 

Cap-Gap Extension

After completion of the OPT timeline of 24 months, employees look to widen their horizons and engage in a multi-dimensional world of progress and enrichment through professional and diverse employment opportunities. They anticipate getting involved in employment that would give them an opportunity to work in the US for a longer duration. In such cases, job seekers need to fulfil cap-gap extension criteria.

A cap-gap extension allows certain students with pending H-1B petitions to stay in the US with an F1 visa until the start of the approved H-1B petition filed by their employer on or after April 1 with a request to change the status w.e.f October 1. 

A cap-gap period begins when the status of the student’s F1 visas has concluded and the employer has timely filed the H-1B petition with USCIS to change the student’s status. 1st April is the potential date when an employer can file an H-1B visa petition for the start date of October 1 when the status will be changed.

Students whose F1 visa status ends between April 1 and September 30 can-

  • A petition to stay has been filed before the end of the grace period.
  • STEM OPT extension will expire after April 1, but the petition was filed before the termination of the period. 

(*For caveats on a cap-gap extension, Kindly visit )

Process for submitting OPT Application to USCIS

  1. Attend OPT Online workshop.

(Students are eligible to seek authorization for OPT related to the course of study upon successful completion of the online workshop. The workshop is divided into several modules. Each module is followed by a quiz to test the understanding of the learner.)

  1. Obtain I-20 request form and recommendation letter from a designated school official (DSO).
  2. Submit the following documents-


  • Photocopy of passport pages with complete details
  • Employment Authorization Document (if previously authorized).
  1. Pay the required fee through cheque or money order. (Revision of required fee to $550 is presently halted, and $410 is to be paid till further orders) 
  2. Seek the correct mailing address of USCIS. Mail the required documents.
  3. Set up an informed delivery with the US Postal Service.
  4. Keep a track of the form and ensure that you have a duplicate copy of all the documents mailed in hand.

*Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the student exchange visitor program (SEVP) has allowed students to work for less than 20 hours a week and still comply with other obligations/requirements.

*To stay updated with the changing rules and new terms, Kindly visit


To know about Day 1 CPT and its guidelines visit our website here.


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