OPT and CPT in USA 

5 minute read
OPT and CPT in the USA

Most Indian students choose American universities to boost their knowledge through the top-ranked education systems. Nowadays, students are also looking for on-the-job training as well as international exposure. Internships, international work experience, and research experience will enhance the credibility of a student’s resume. Students can also get to develop new skills which would be valued by employers. International students in the USA need to take authorization from the relevant authorities. In the USA, international students have three different types of employment authorization options: CPT, OPT, and on-campus employment. In this blog, we will discuss OPT and CPT in USA. 


What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

If you have an F-1 visa, you might get opportunities to take part in different practical training programs which will work as one of the most important parts of the established curriculum. It’s also linked to the area of the study directly. This specific type of authorized employment is called CPT or curricular practical training. 

But keep in mind that CPT won’t fall under the benefits of an F-1 visa. Hence, students need to visit the international office of the university to apply for CPT. 

The required degrees, educational programs, and course requirements will also depend on the university you’ve chosen as well as the programs offered by that university. 

Eligibility of CPT 

Many students ask this question before applying for a CPT. As they aren’t aware of the terms and conditions of the OPT and CPT in the USA, most students become confused and end up making common mistakes. Here are some crucial things you need to consider if you want to be eligible for CPT:

  • You have to be a valid F-1 visa holder. 
  • Your enrollment in the university needs to be a minimum of 1 year. 
  • You must have enrollment in a degree program at an accredited U.S Institution. 
  • You must have relevant job offers as per the requirements of the university in terms of courses. 

Features of CPT

Even though the availability, details, and application process of the CPT will depend on the university, here are some basic features of the CPT you need to know:

  • The CPT is applicable only during the academic program years of the student. 
  • The international office of the university will authorize the CPT. 
  • It doesn’t matter how many times you take part in full-time or part-time CPT, you don’t need to face any time limit. 
  • Part-time or full-time CPT will affect your OPT eligibility. 

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

International students who have an F-1 visa can also be eligible for optional practical training or OPT. F-1 visa students can apply for an overall 12 months of full-time OPT as per the degree level. The USCIS will approve the OPT and it might take a few months to process. 

Eligibility for OPT 

Here is the following conditions you need to meet if you want to apply for OPT:

  • You have to be an F-1 visa holder. 
  • At least one year of enrolment for the academic year. 
  • US-accredited degree program. 
  • Working plans directly related to your study. 
  • The student should not have more than 12 months of full-time CPT 
  • The student should not use 12 months of full-time OPT as per the degree level. 

Features of OPT 

Here are the key features you need to know about OPT:

  • If you’re focusing on CPT after OPT, keep in mind that you won’t be able to apply for CPT once you complete the full OPT period. 
  • Pre-completion process of the OPT can be either full-time or part-time. 
  • The post-completion OPT will be applied only as full-time. If you have an F-1 visa and you finished the program, you will be able to apply for post-completion OPT through the USCIS. 
  • If you’re ready to apply for your OPT, you need to get in touch with the international office of the university and they will further guide you through the application process. 

Here’s a YouTube link that might simplify the process:

[Source: YouTube – Yash Mittra]

Difference Between CPT and OPT for International Students

This is one of the most important things you need to know. If you don’t have enough knowledge about OPT and CPT in the USA, you won’t be able to make the best choice. To help you, here’s a table that showcases the differences between OPT and CPT in the USA for international students. 

OPT is one type of temporary authorization that is offered to students who have a valid F-1 visa. When students have OPT, they can work in their relevant field for 12 months. CPT is also one type of temporary authorization that is offered for F-1 visa students. It will directly relate to their majors for 12 months. 
The work experience for OPT needs to be relevant to the graduation field of the student. However, it doesn’t need to be necessarily connected to the academic curriculum. When you work with CPT, it has to be relevant to the student’s degree. If it’s not, the work needs to receive the proper course credit.  
You don’t need to worry about employer-specific issues. Additionally, it’s not an employer-based thing. CPT will work as an important part of your major that will help students work in an unpaid or paid internship. 
Students who have OPT authorization are allowed to work with any employer they want in the United States. Only the employers who are available on SEVIS can participate in CPT
The process can be completed after or before your graduationCPT can be completed within 12 months 

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What comes first? CPT or OPT?

CPT needs to be completed before you complete your graduation. On the other hand, OPT can be completed after or before graduation. 

Is OPT the same as CPT?

OPT is different from CPT. CPT is applicable to students who are still studying. On the other hand, CPT is applicable after your graduation. 

Is it possible to work two jobs on CPT?

Yes, but you must obtain a different I-20 endorsed for each CPT employer if you have more than one employer.

If you want to get into a high-ranked university, you’ll need more than just good grades; you’ll also need flawless application because the competition is fierce. You may enlist the assistance of Leverage Edu specialists to assist you with the application process so that you can realise your goals. Call us immediately at 1800 57 2000 for a free 30-minute counselling session.

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