Many are pursuing international education, especially in U.S. colleges and universities. For many of these students, the opportunity does not end after graduating from school, but extends further, thanks to the “Optional Practical Training” program or widely known as OPT.
Through the OPT program, an international student can work for 12 months in a U.S. based job related to his field of study. Mr. Jim Hicks of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program of USCIS said that the OPT is an opportunity to apply knowledge gained from a program of study in a practical environment.
OPT, indeed, is a great avenue to get hands-on experience. In a 2017 survey of international students by the World Education Services, 73% of respondents said that the gaining U.S. work experience before returning home or going to another country was a very important factor considered in their decision to study in the U.S. A U.S. job experience adds great value in a resume when applying for jobs back in the student’s home country or even in other countries.
To be eligible for the OPT program, a student must have completed at least one academic year of full-time studies. Once eligible, a student must complete the application process to obtain OPT work authorization. Paying attention to the deadlines during the application is important as a student can only apply for OPT no earlier than 90 days before graduation and no later than 60 days afterward.