By VICTORIA DE LA CRUZ
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period of time in which undergraduate and graduate students who have completed their degree at an American university are allowed to work legally in the United States.
In other words, The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services lets international students gain hands-on work experience that relates directly to their field of study. For example, a business student would have the opportunity to work at a company in a management position, but not in a graphic design position.
This temporary work authorization lasts 12 months and it is only authorized if one has not exceeded twelve months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. CPT gives international students permission to obtain internships or part-time jobs during this time slot.
As long as the student’s CPT authorizations are all part-time, it will not interfere with the OPT eligibility. Undergraduate students are already eligible for the OPT after completing their degree, though they can also receive another 12 month OPT after completing a master’s degree, which means that students get a full-time OPT for every academic level completed. Students who have completed a degree in the fields of science, engineering, technology or math are eligible for a 17 month OPT extension.
It is recommended that these students apply for the extension up to 120 days before their OPT expiration. The biggest advice to be given to international students graduating this year is to apply early for the OPT. Contrary to popular belief, students do not need to have a job offer before applying for the OPT.
International Students Should Start Applying For Their OPT Now plication can be submitted as early as 90 days before degree completion and up to 60 days after graduation.
“I applied for the OPT one week before I graduated and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life,” said Maria Herazo, alum. “After I graduated, I started looking for different jobs and ended up getting a great offer from a subtitling company called The Kitchen.”
Lynn students must attend an OPT workshop in the International Student Services office located in Trinity Residence Hall in order to be able to apply for it.
“Erin Hari and Morayma James at the International Student Services really helped me get all of my papers in order for the OPT and my application was authorized without any trouble,” said Mariana Castro, alum.
For more information on how to apply for the OPT, students can visit the International Student Services tab under Academics at my.lynn.edu or stop by the International Services Office outside of Trinity to get personal assistance.