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Here’s How to Get a Job on OPT

Here’s How to Get a Job on OPT

If you’re an international student studying in the US, you might be dreaming of continuing to live and work there after your education. Luckily, that’s not an outlandish dream! At HiCounselor, we suggest starting your career planning at least a year before graduating as the competition for getting a job on OPT can be pretty tough.


To help you stay ahead of the curve, we’ve created this short guide on getting a job on OPT for international students. If you want more help getting started on your career path, contact HiCounselor and one of our mentors will gladly work with you! You can also browse top companies for OPT jobs here. If you’d like to understand the difference between CPT and OPT, read this. Details of the OPT Cap Gap extension have been provided here


What is OPT?

OPT is short for Optional Practical Training. This program lets an international student on an F-1 visa undertake temporary employment for up to 12 months in a field directly related to the student’s major subject. The application process for getting a job on OPT can take anywhere from 1 to 4 months, so it’s advisable to start the application process months before your graduation. 


OPT Job Requirements

International students looking to secure a job on OPT have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for the program. This includes finding a position that’s related to their area of study. They should also have maintained their legal F-1 status by following all rules and regulations. The OPT application also should have been completed before the student graduates. 


When it comes to finding a job on OPT, students have some options. They can choose pre-completion OPT (work while they’re still studying), post-completion OPT (work after they graduate), or a combination of the two. Pre-completion OPT periods are part-time and are deducted from the post-completion OPT available. If a student has completed CPT for a year, they’re ineligible for OPT. 


OPT Job Application

If an international student wants to get a job on OPT, they should get approval from their DSO (Designated School Official). After obtaining that, they must apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) from the USCIS within 30 days. Students can begin their OPT application process up to 90 days before the end-of-date program and not later than 60 days after they’ve graduated. 


To get a job on OPT post-completion, a student should work full time, i.e., 40 hours per week. The OPT work of the student should be finished within 12 months of them having graduated. All post-completion OPT applications should be submitted to USCIS before the student completes their graduation.


If an international student wants to continue to work in the US after their OPT period is over, they’ll have to apply for an H-1B visa. This visa allows a company to hire an employee for 3 years. Luckily, there are many companies that are looking for talented workers and help sponsor their employees’ visa applications. 


We hope this short guide helps you get a job on OPT! If you need assistance in finding a well-paying job in the US, contact HiCounselor to find out what we can do for you! We only take payment once we’ve found you a job so you won’t have to worry about making payments when you’re not working. If you want to browse the top companies for OPT jobs, go here. Find out more about the OPT Cap Gap extension here


HiCounselor has forged technical advances to transform the hiring landscape for job seekers and recruiters alike. Our career accelerator program provides job seekers with coaching and mentorship from industry leaders employed at FAANG companies while recruiters ally with HiCounselor to empower their hiring strategy and hone in on the best candidates. Learn more about HiCounselor here and reach out to us on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.