Difference between CPT and OPT (CPT Vs OPT)
There are two main difference between CPT and OPT. 1st one is the time period in which you are eligible for these programs. And the 2nd one is the type of work allowed in each of these two programs.
CPT must be completed before your graduation and it should be related to your field of study. Your curriculum allows you to work for paid or unpaid internship. CPT must be required by your major. If your major does not require CPT then you must receive course credits.
OTP can be completed before or after graduation. Also remember all the employers do not participate in CPT while OPT is not employer specific. You can work anywhere you want.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optical Practical Training allows foreign students having F1 visa to work in the United States temporarily. You are eligible to apply for OPT after completing your 1st year of academics. You are allowed to use your OPT before or after completing your studies. But remember you have 12 months of OPT only. For example If you utilize 6 months of OPT during your academics then you will have only 6 months of OPT left.
This is important an point as you can extend your OTP for another 24 months. But this extension only applies to those international students who have completed their degrees in certain science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT temporarily allows international students with an F1 visa to get practical exposure related to their major. Foreign students can directly get experience through employment. CPT is a part of the curriculum so if you do get an opportunity which aligns your field of interest then you should use it. CPT can be part time which is 20 hours or less in a week as well as full time which is more than 20 hours. However, if you work full time during your CPT then it will affect your OPT. Number of months you work as a full time in CPT will be deducted from your OPT. I would never suggest to go for full time CPT.
Should i work as a full time during CPT?
I would say never. You will find something part time during your academics. Ask your seniors or friends they will help you to find some part time job. If you work as a full time then you will lose OPT.
Should i use my OPT during academics or before completing my studies?
Again i would say NO. A big NO if you want to stay in the US as long as possible. Total you have 3 years of OPT including extension. If you utilize some of it during academic then you will have less time after completing your studies.
If you are not lucky then it may take some years to get an H1b visa for your further stay in the states. Mostly international students who wants to stay in the United States after completing their studies, apply h1b visa. Finding an h1b visa sponsor is not tough here in the US. There are many consultancies and small companies and even bigger companies will be ready to sponsor you but the fact is that h1b visa results depends upon h1b lottery results.
One of my friend could not get h1b in three consecutive years. So he had to take admission in PG to stay in the United States after completing three years of OPT. So you should use OPT carefully during academics.
Pre completion opt vs cpt.
As mentioned above, CPT must be completed before your academics gets over. OPT can be completed before or after academics. So, when you do OPT during your academics it is called pre completion OPT and when you use your OPT after academics, it is called pot completion OPT. However the pre completion OPT will be deducted from your total available OPT as explained above.
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