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What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

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When an international student is in the United States on an F-1 or a J-1, they may have the chance to go to work for a US employer. This most often happens on F-1 visas, it is a little bit harder with the J-1 visa, which is the exchange visit visa. This is because students on these visas often must return home for two years.

When a student finishes their F-1 studies, they can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Anyone who graduates from a US College, Community College, or grad school on a F-1 visa can get one year of OPT.

Optional Practical Training allows a person to work in their field. After OPT, a student may be able to get an H-1B visa. However, it is important to note that the employment must be within the student’s field of study. For instance, a student cannot work in a hotel if they have an engineering degree.

When on OPT, the student needs to document where they are working. Their school will update their I-20 paperwork to notify the part of Homeland Security that regulates international students (SEVIS) of their employment. This will allow them to extend their F-1 visa to allow them to work for this employer.

OPT is essentially a one-year long job interview. As long as they work hard, the employer may be willing to sponsor the student for an H-1B following OPT.

For more information about OPT, reach out to Hacking Immigration Law, LLC today.

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