What is OPT (Optional Practical Training)

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What is Optional Practical Training? It is more of a benefit for F1 students who plan to take a Bachelor’s degree in the Land of Promise. OPT opens the door for possible employment in the student’s subject of learning. The training is given approval by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.

Overseas students (F1 Visa holders) who wish to apply for this program should first complete the OPT’s web-based workshop. This covers vital details related to eligibility requirements, application schedules, reporting prerequisites and other relevant matters. Forms for OPT application will be given at the end of the online seminar. There are F1 rules restricting unemployment period students can accumulate during the training. This is a maximum of three months.

On the other hand, the Employer information Update for Optional Practical Training is meant only for learners approved for this kind of training. This is where the F1 students can submit employer information, modifications in employment or unemployment period. The Office of International Services will propose that updates regarding employers will be done as soon as changes in employment are made. As a rule, F1 students may be granted 12 months of OPT.

As a background, the Department of Homeland Security approved an extension of 17 months to this practical training program for students who have been declared eligible for STEM or disciplines in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This terminology is adapted in addressing curriculum selection and educational policies to enhance competitiveness in science and technology advancement. Approved major subjects are listed in the website of USCIS. However, the Immigration Reform Law Institute has challenged the legitimacy of this extension in the US federal courts since then.

One of the requirements is for the student to decide in taking the OPT while attending school or right after graduation. It can also be a combination of both. F1 students are usually permitted up to one year of full-time training for every educational level. This is undergraduate, graduate or post graduate. In case the student opts for the pre-completion training, that individual cannot work for more than 20 hours each week while studying. However, permanent work is allowed during vacation or when there is no school session.

The student’s post completion OPT will be cut by one month for every two months of part-time (pre-completion) training by engaging in pre-completion practicum. Students who finish with any STEM degree and currently engaged in an approved training (post completion) with any STEM degree is qualified to seek an extension of the OPT.

If you have gone through the guidelines explained above, it is time to find out if this F1 Optional Practical Training will be ideal for you. Applicants can look for the complete procedures and legal obligations on the website of Immigration and Custom Enforcement. At the same time, you can check out Greenhandshake’s site at www.greenhandshake.com for more help. GREENHANDSHAKE is a reliable online community marketplace that helps immigrants in the United States especially students connect to their peers.

Nghi Tran – CFO/ Marketing Manager in Vietnam

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