CPT & OPT jobs in the US- An international student guide!

CPT & OPT jobs in US


CPT (Curriculum Practical Training)

What Is CPT?

  • CPT stands for Curriculum Practical Training. It is a type of employment granted to students on an F1 visa.
  • Many programs in the US require a student to work to gain on-the-job experience. It is needed to do an internship/job during the course of your MS in the US.

More About CPT:

  • The duration for which it is granted varies from university to university
  • Generally, it is granted for 4-12 months
  • If any student works full-time on CPT for more than 11 months, he cannot get OPT. So, a student needs to be very cautious about the time period of internship
  • Some universities allow only part-time employment during CPT i.e. a student can work only for 20 hours per week
  • Those who are granted full-time CPT can take up full-time employment
  • This job must be related to your major in MS
  • Universities may grant CPT during any of the semesters. It differs from university to university
  • Some grant it after a student completes a specific number of courses
  • Many universities give CPT only if a student has a job offer in hand

OPT (Optional Practical Training)

What Is OPT?

  • It stands for Optional Practical Training. It is a 1-year work permit granted to those who completed their MS

More About OPT:

  • It is granted for a period of 12 months
  • For those from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Management) backgrounds, an extension to 17 months is given
  • So, effectively, an MS graduate can work on OPT for 29 months
  • Taxes on what one earns while working on OPT are a very nominal i.e. only employer and state taxes are deducted.
  • One can work for 40 hours a week i.e. as a regular full-time employee.
  • A student can get a starting salary anywhere between $3000 and $7000.
  • A student should have to find a job within 90 days after OPT is granted to him/her else he/she will become ‘out of status’ and should leave the US within 60 days.
  • You need not have a job offer in hand to apply for OPT.
  • Further, you should get your H1B visa approved before your OPT ends. Else, you’ll have to leave US after OPT expires.
  • Many students feel that is better to apply for an H1B visa in the second year of CPT as they can save more money due to fewer taxes.
  • However, it is better to apply for H1B during the first year of your OPT itself so that you get a second chance to apply for a visa in case your first application gets rejected.


                      Free Profile Evaluation Tool