F1 visa students studying in the USA look for various opportunities to enhance their skills. During the course of their study, they start looking for such options. This is where CPT and OPT become important.
What is CPT?
Curricular Practical Training or CPT is a training program that offers international learners and scholars with prospects to work alongside their degree or course. It can be an on-campus occupation or off-campus work. The chief purpose of CPT is to provide real-world understanding through training before the end date of the course. The important condition to be kept in mind while taking up CPT is that it should be a part of the program selected. The benefits of taking up CPT are as follows-
- There is no prerequisite of acquiring an EAD or Employment Authorization Document from USCIS unlike in OPT.
- No submission fee or charges are to be paid.
- It can be full-time or part-time.
CPT must be approved by your university DSO and will be included on your I-20 and part of your SEVIS record.
If you utilize 12 months or more of full-time CPT (20 hrs. per week of work or more) then you will be ineligible to utilize OPT after graduation.
What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training or OPT as the name suggests provides qualified international learners an option to gain a real outlook of the work situation and experiential learning after the completion of the desired course in the US. It is not just a visa but a kind of training advantage that helps to maintain visa status for up to 12 months after successfully completing the professional degree or course of study. Students completing STEM-designated degrees (in science, technology, engineering, or Math can also apply for a 24-month stem extension to further their OPT in the US.
OPT can be of three further kinds-
- Pre-completion OPT
- Post-completion OPT
- STEM OPT
Finding employment while on CPT or OPT
- There are several companies in the USA that are willing to offer job opportunities to freshers who are pursuing their courses. The requirement of employees in the information technology sector has increased tremendously in the last few years. Some of the leading companies looking to hire students still on CPT and OPT are Apple, Amazon, Tesla, IBM, Facebook, Google, etc. these companies are looking for innovation and new ideas, which are easily available to young minds
- Applying for an employment opportunity with other sectors like health, banking, etc is also helpful. If your degree or course is related to any of these sectors, then looking for a job in these sectors is the best option available.
- Students with CPT also get lucky if they are looking for an employment chance in the real estate or consultancy sector. The only caveat is that the course or degree must also be related to the type of job you are looking for.
- Prepare a resume that highlights the internships and previous experiences. Make profiles on all possible job portals known like LinkedIn etc. Stay updated with all possible vacancies and make a list of companies applied to. Keep track of the options available and stay updated with the new technologies and skills in the market. In short, make your resume strong enough for employers to find it attractive.
- A resume alone doesn’t get anyone anywhere. It is because companies nowadays are looking for highly skilled candidates who can manage working under pressure, have the zeal to work hard, are presentable, and have good communication skills. It is also better to look for jobs or approach a training consultancy. Training consultancy firms update your resume with relevant keywords that help it get picked by employers easily. Thus, they make your resume impressive and more appealing. They also help you to learn demand skills and even suggest short-term courses which help you become more proficient. They work upon various important points and try to make you well-dressed and groom you professionally so you can look assertive in job interviews.
Here are some websites that list job opportunities: