OPT Visa ended? Here are your options!


Optional Practical Training or OPT is a training program available to international students who wish to intern or work in a field related to their degree of study. It provides a chance to apply the concepts learned while studying in real-life scenarios. It widens the learning horizons of the seeker and helps attain valuable skills.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) allows international students to opt for Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT can be taken up after the successful completion of the first academic year in the US. The option of opting for optional practical training is also restricted to those colleges or programs or courses, which comes under the purview of the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP). 

Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international students can be categorized into three kinds.

  1. Pre-completion OPT
  2. Post-completion OPT

For detailed information about the three kinds of OPT, refer to the articleAll about OPT for F1 visa.

Each of the three kinds of options available for OPT has a time limit. 

  • Pre-completion OPT


  • Post completion OPT



STEM stands for Science, Engineering, Technology, or Mathematics (STEM) courses. Training under these disciplines provides an additional benefit to F1 students. The validity of their F1 visa is extended up to a maximum of 24 months. This means that in total a STEM OPT student can have 36 months of experience.

After the completion of the time limit, many students look for options to continue their stay in the USA. Below are some of the options to help you make up your mind. 

    • Apply for an H1 B visa

Applying for an H1B visa is a lengthy and time-consuming process. It is advised to start the process months before your OPT expires. To file for an H1B visa, you need an employer to sponsor your application. H1B visa permits you to extend your stay in the USA for 6 years. To apply for an H1B visa, you must have a bachelor’s degree and a job offer related to the field of study. The employer must seek approval from USCIS before the deadline. 

(For more information about an H1B visa, refer to the link-https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/h-1b-specialty-occupations

    • Enrolling in a course or degree

Another option available to you is to enroll yourself in a course or degree. You can opt for a Master’s degree or Ph.D. Usually, this option is taken up by those students who either wish to continue with higher studies or are not able to get an H1B visa.  

    • Return to home country

If you are not able to obtain an H1B visa and are not sure about continuing a higher degree or course, the next available option is to return to your home country. There is a 60 day grace period after completion of the degree or completion of OPT. This grace period implies that you can extend your stay in the USA for this limited time of 60 days. During this grace period, you can apply for a job, try to seek admission in a new course or plan to switch to another visa. 


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