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What is OPT: Optional Practical Training – OPT for F1 Students

Taking into account the evolving reality of the professional world, the significance of acquiring credible work experience cannot perhaps be overstated. In order to survive and thrive in this era of cutthroat competition, the sooner you start out, the better are your chances of advancing up the career ladder and accomplishing your vocational goals. It is exactly in this very context that options such as Optional Practical Training must be explored and leveraged by one and all in order to make sure that your resume has certain added features that will indeed make it stand apart from the rest.

What exactly is OPT or Optional Practical Training?

Optional Practical Training or OPT is a scheme offered by the US government for its community of international students. By opting for this particular opportunity as an international student, you can choose to stay in the US for an initial period of 12 months and secure employability related to your specific area of study, after you have completed your graduation. In fact, in the case of STEM-certified degrees and programs, you can extend your stay by an additional 24 months.

What are the benefits that come along with Optional Practical Training?

Before applying or opting for OPT, it is important to understand the advantages that it brings along. Here are a few reasons why you should opt for this scheme while you are a student in the US:

  • To acquire credible work experience: As you embark on your career path and seek professional progress, you must realize that if there is one factor that single-handedly provides you a competitive advantage above the rest, it is the value of work experience. As a fresh graduate, if your resume already affirms your capability in terms of real-world application of skills, it is bound to make your candidature stronger and make you an obvious choice for most employers, in the days to come.
  • To build a network that will last you a lifetime: By opting for Optional Practical Training, you will have the opportunity to work with renowned organizations and global firms of international repute. Not only will this add to your professional credibility but it will also provide you the chance to foster networks and build connections with like-minded, eminent professionals. These contacts will always remain valuable as you venture out into the real vocational world across continents and move from one role to another.
  • To focus on your education for the time being: One of the greatest upsides of opting for OPT is that you get to develop your vocational skills in the practical field after you complete your degree. This means you are given the opportunity to completely concentrate on your academic curriculum without having to worry about internships or job opportunities simultaneously, all at the same time.

What is the eligibility for Optional Practical Training? While the OPT is a remarkable opportunity that you cannot afford to miss out on, most people do not have a clear idea about the factors that make them eligible for OPT. Here’s looking at a few of the non-negotiable clauses required for Optional Practical Training:

  1. You must be a full-time student of an academic degree or program at a university in the US.
  2. The time period of the academic degree program must be at least 1-year-long.
  3. You must be a valid F-1 visa holder.
  4. Unlike the H-1B visa, which warrants your employer to endorse you, Optional Practical Training does not require you to have a job offer or opening prior to your application.
  5. The employability that you seek as part of Optional Practical Training must be directly related to your area of study.

Optional Practical Training or OPT is sanctioned by the Citizenship and Immigration Service of the US and can take as long as 120 days to get legitimized. As a student in the US looking to ameliorate your career prospects, OPT and the avenues that it brings along are not something you should miss out on, at any cost.

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