Optional Practical Training is commonly known as OPT. It is actually a period of time during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 visa status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for one academic year are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services known as USCIS to work for one year on a student visa towards getting practical training to complement their education. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that there is a 17-month extension to the OPT for students in qualifying STEM fields. If any student is eligible for the 12-month permit, he or she can have degree in any field of studies is valid. For anyone has to get the 17-month OPT extensions, he or she must have received a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics degree as listed on the USCIS website.

It is needed to mention that on May 31, 2008, the Immigration Reform Law Institute filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the validity of the 17 month OPT extension on behalf of various organizations and individuals. The deadline to formulate the rules was subsequently extended by three months. On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule. The rule allows the certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees as well as who meet other specified requirements, to apply for a 24-month extension of their post completion OPT. It also gives STEM graduates a total of 36 months of OPT. There is a 24-month extension that will replace with the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to STEM students. So the eligible students can begin applying for a 24-month STEM OPT extension on May 10, 2016.

There is also possible that anyone can have a post-completion Optional Practical Training option for students on M-1 visas. But it is significantly more complicated than that for F-1 students. With all other exception, the Optional Practical Training (OPT) is understood to refer to Optional Practical Training for F-1 students.

Optional Practical Training Employment Authorization known as OPT EAD Card is an identification card given by USCIS. It is given to represent after your graduation, your legal status in US as student that you are on OPT. Optional Practical Training Employment Authorization Card is another identification card that is given by USCIS. It also represents after your graduation your legal status in US as student that you are on OPT.

It will cost some money to have the OPT visa. The filing fee is $380.  Usually you will need a new fee each of the time you file for an EAD that is like for pre-completion OPT, and then for post-completion OPT. For the billing, you can use a personal check, cashier’s check, or money order made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Generally the USCIS places a 12 month limit per degree level on OPT. It may be noted that there is no stipulation that the whole 12 months must be used at once.