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Foreign Students Work in the U.S. – What’s OPT

According to USCIS

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study.

  • Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion).

  • All periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.

That means if you have had 3 months of OPT before your graduation, you can have up to 9 months of OPT after graduation.

STEM OPT Extension

USCIS points out “students who have earned degrees in certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization if they:

  1. Are an F-1 student who received a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List (PDF),
  2. Are employed by an employer enrolled in E-Verify, and
  3. Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on their STEM degree.”

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