OPT and CPT Program – 2 Ways in Which F1 Visa Students Can Work in the US

Video Transcript

Welcome viewers to the legal segment of sitaarre TV this is Sweta Khandelwal, I’m an attorney I specialize in immigration law and I practice here in Santa Clara. Today we’ll discuss ways in which an international student on an F1 visa can work in the US. There are two ways in which a student can work in the US, one is the optional practical training or the OPT program and the other is the curricular practical training or the CPT program. The CPT program is a work-study program a student can do an internship or any other work-study arrangement that is essential to the curriculum, so what is important is the work-study should be an integral part of the course and it should be mandatory for all students who take that course. CPT is restricted, it is issued for a particular employer and for a particular location and the student is required to maintain a full course of study on the F1 visa, because a student is required to maintain a full course of study the CBT is an expensive option while there is no restriction on the number of times that a student can be on CBT but full-time. CBT of 365 days or more will affect the student’s eligibility for an OPT for the same level of education. Let’s now talk about the OPT program which is a more popular program. It is popular because it is flexible, there is no restriction on the number of hours or the employer for whom the student can work for any number of hours for any number of employers however the student can not remain unemployed for more than 90 days while on an OPT. Since the student is not required to be enrolled in college, OPT works out much cheaper however the student must apply for an employment authorization document to be eligible to work and it is this EAD or the employment authorization document that allows the student to work full-time in the US. OPT is usually issued for 12 months and if the student is enrolled in science technology engineering or math then an additional 17 months of opt is available which makes it a total of 29 months of OPT training. So this is essentially a work authorization given to you for 29 months so long as you continue to work in a field of study that is relevant to your academic program. CPT is available at different points in a student’s career so you can do it while the school is in session during vacation or after the completion of the course. Most students rather do it after the courses over because this allows them to work full-time. It is interesting to note that self employment is possible on opt so you can start a company and work for the company while you are on opt, if you are a major in if any of the STEM subjects science, technology, engineering or math and you have a total of 29 months of OPT period, then it’s a great opportunity for you to start a company, work for the company and see if the company has any prospects in the US. If things go well this company can ultimately sponsor your green card or your H-1b visa. I hope you found the session informative and useful as usual if you have any comments thoughts suggestions or feedback feel free to email me at sweta@khandelwalaw.com, see you next week.