OPT and CPT Employment
Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training are two different employment programs offered by the USA government for the F1 visa international students to work legally, but there is a lot of difference between OPT and CPT employment.
- A CPT employment option is part of the academic program. It can be a full time employment program or part-time employment program, but should not be more than 12 months. You will need a job offer for CPT program.
- An OPT employment option is not part of the academic program. This is an opportunity for all the graduate and post graduate students who are still pursuing or completed their education to work legally in USA. This can be full-time or part time employment. This is an excellent option for those students who want to work in the USA. You will be able to show your skills to the employer and find an H1B sponsor while you are getting paid for your employment. You don’t need a job offer for Opt program.
Requirements for OPT and CPT employment –
- Whether it is an OPT or CPT program, you need to have the job offer only from the recognized organization only. The employer should be a designated employer or approved employer by USCIS.
- You should have completed at least one year of academic program at the university.
- You should be able to spend at least 20 hours per week in part-time employment program and full -time for full-time employment program.
Process of Application submission –
- You will have to submit the application to the OISS and this has to be done at least 3 months (90 days) before the date you want start your practical training employment program. You should mention certain important points in this like the dates of the employment, number of hours you want to spend for this program like full-time or part-time, employer names and place.
- I-20 is issued by OISS after reviewing the application is submitted. When the I-20 is ready, then you will receive an email.
- After receiving the email on the I-20 then you will have to send an application to USCIS along with all the required documents.
- You will be sent a receipt number for tracking the approval details.
The processing of USCIS will take up to 3 months duration. You will receive a receipt once your employment authorization document or EAD card is ready. You can track all the information online using the receipt number received. Make sure you start your employment only from the start date and end it exactly on the end date. You are not permitted to work beyond that. STEM students are given an extension of 17 months for completion of their practical training and this is given for only OPT employment program.
One important point to take care when you are interested in Optional Practical Training employment is to make sure that your Curricular Practical Training program does not extend 12 months.