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Clocking in with CPT & OPT: The Ultimate Work & Study Duo for International Students in the USA

Clocking in with CPT & OPT: The Ultimate Work & Study Duo for International Students in the USA

We study to work on a respectable job and provide ourselves with a prosperous life. Transitioning from a student to a professional life is made smooth through internship opportunities provided during and after our studies. 

For most international students, working in the dream country is the ultimate goal. Graduation is just the start of the journey to launch a successful career in the chosen field. Students pursuing education in the USA are given the chance to put theory into practice and attain financial stability through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). It is a different terminology unique to the USA for internships used in other countries.

Here is a brief look at the two facilities:

What is CPT?

International students who are studying in the USA on an F-1 visa can use the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) facility to attain practical experience related to their field directly. This is a temporary permission to work in the United States while you are an active student in the country. In some cases, it is mandatory to complete this training before being awarded the degree. This internship can be paid or unpaid and forms part of the major curriculum of students. Here are some features of CPT:

  • Training needs to be in the field in which the student has studied
  • There can be more than one CPT authorization in a given time
  • Authorization is given for a particular period and by a specific employer
  • A Designated School Official (DSO) gives permission for CPT on SEVIS
  • Opting for a complete one-year full-time CPT makes a student ineligible for OPT.

Benefits of CPT

  • Hands-on Invaluable Experience: There can be nothing more rewarding than the opportunity to work in one of the world’s biggest economies. It improves chances of employability and enhances skills and the opportunity to experience real-world settings in the USA.
  • Network with industry professionals: It offers the chance to form connections that will open doors for career progression and settling in the country.

How to Become Eligible for CPT?

  • Should have a lawful enrolment for at least one full academic year
  • Students whose programme calls for earlier training are exempted from the above rule
  • Students should not be studying English as a second language
  • CPT authorisation is only given or is required when the training is within the United States

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment authorisation is given to students after they complete their studies or graduation. Students can work in a field related to their major full-time for up to 12 months. STEM graduates can have an additional extension for 24 months, making it a total of 36 months. 

When comparing the two internship opportunities, CPT and OPT, both aim to provide experience to international students. CPT allows working while studying and OPT allows one to work either during or after completing studies.

Here is How OPT can Benefit you:

  • Bridge Academic Life and Professional Life: This experience allows for a smooth transition from one phase of life to another, i.e. from a student to a professional in the USA. 
  • Opens Door for Permanent Job in the US: Students who can showcase their potential and promising results are offered permanent employment by the employer. If you want to talk more about this, talk to overseas education consultants in Chandigarh.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for OPT?

  • Students need to be enrolled full-time in an accredited institution
  • Students who are studying English as a second language will not be eligible
  • There is a pre-completion OPT and a full-time post-completion OPT. Post-completion OPT is given for one year and can be applied only once for one degree.
  • Students authorised for 12 or more months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are not eligible
  • The employment proposed to the student needs to be related to the major area of study.

Important Consideration While Applying for CPT/OPT

As an international student studying in the USA, you should start searching for available working options just as you start your studies. Talk to your DSO, and plan and prepare for your career only after learning about specific requirements and application procedures. You will get valuable guidance regarding the process and compliance from the DSO as well.

CPT and OPT are temporary work authorisations, but they open a door of opportunity to settle permanently in the USA. During this training period if you can impress your employer, turn out to be a quick learner and show tremendous potential, then it is possible that you can be sponsored for permanent employment.

The Final Checkpoint

Becoming a permanent resident of the USA is very rewarding but can be tough. Opportunities to work temporarily after studying through CPT and OPT bring you close to realising your dream of settling there permanently. Make the most of these opportunities and if you want to learn more and find out which training option will be right for you, it is best to talk to immigration consultants in Chandigarh.

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