1. What is F1 Visa?

The F1 visa is a non-immigrant student visa that allows foreign nationals to study in the United States. It is designed for individuals enrolled in academic or language training programs at U.S. universities, colleges, or other educational institutions. F1 visa holders are permitted to stay in the U.S. for the duration of their study program and for a limited period of practical training after completion of their studies.

2. What is OPT (Optional Practical Training)?

OPT, or Optional Practical Training, is a period during which F1 students who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months are allowed to work in the U.S. in positions related to their field of study. This practical training provides students with valuable hands-on experience, enhancing their skills and understanding of the American work environment.

3. What is OPT Extension?

The OPT Extension period allows eligible F1 students to extend their practical training experience in the United States beyond the initial 12-month OPT period. The duration of the OPT Extension period for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree holders is 24 months. This means that students with STEM degrees can work for an additional 24 months after completing their initial 12-month OPT period, totaling 36 months of practical training in the U.S. 

This extended timeframe provides students with a more substantial opportunity to gain valuable work experience and contribute to the American workforce in their specialized fields.

4. Who May Apply for OPT Extension?

To be eligible for OPT Extension, F1 students must meet the following criteria:

  • STEM Degree: The student must have earned a degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field included in the U.S. government’s designated STEM degree list.
  • Employment with E-Verify Employers: The student must work for an employer enrolled in the E-Verify program, an internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S.
  • Initial 12-Month OPT Completion: The student must have successfully completed the initial 12-month OPT period.
  • Application Process: To apply for OPT Extension, students must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with the required documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the expiration of their initial OPT period.

By meeting these criteria, F1 students can extend their practical training experience in the United States, enhancing their skills and increasing their employability in the competitive job market.