The Optional Practical Training or in short OPT is the opportunity given by US government to apply knowledge gained in your educational program to off-campus work in your field. OPT is authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This authorization process may take up to 3 months and the maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 student visa OPT status is 12 months per degree level, post which there is a possibility of H1-B cap extension OR a 24-month extension for those who qualify under certain rules.
The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program has been salvation method for many international students who go to USA for higher studies. OPT gives them a chance to apply their knowledge practically in industry and gain invaluable experience along with some monetary benefits which helps them reduce the gap in their student loans (if any). Students use this period to file for H1-B work visa petitions, which on approval allows them for longer residency in United States of America.
Now, with Donald Trump entering the white house, there are speculations of amendment in OPT program, the results may or may not be in favor of international students. We believe, unlike Obama administration, Trump’s team will be much clear and swift in making these changes. According to Trump’s immigrant plan, F-1 visas will no longer be allowed to get experience or work in US, any foreign student graduating from US, should not be eligible for any work permit (EAD), Trump has given hints to cut off OPT and CPT for all. However, even with all the theories flying around, it’s quite unclear as to what Trump – and just importantly, the Republican controlled Congress, plan to do with OPT. So, alteration in law is probably going to happen sooner than expected, but removing OPT completely seems highly unlikely.
Will it impact ‘YOU’ as a student? Well, that depends on where you are currently in your education. If you are a freshman who is going to graduate in next 2 or 3 years, it’s possible that you will see the change happening and impacting you. If you are a senior who is going to graduate soon, it’s not likely that modification in OPT regulations will affect you.
Change is the only constant, it is bound to happen, but change in policies like this one takes time and proper procedures. We are awaiting official announcements, please stay tuned with us to know about the next move from white house and how it may influence you.