Explore OPT/CPT and how they work individually and together

Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) are practical training programs available for the students in the US. Both of these require an F1 visa holder in case of International students to be eligible to apply for these training programs.

OPT, also known as Optional Practical Training is the training program that gives the students with an F1 visa, the chance to work for 12 months with respect to their field of study. OPT can be done in between the course or after the course ends as well.

CPT, also known as Curricular Practical Training, is a training program that gives the students with an F1 visa to work temporarily for 12 months. Unlike the OPT, the CPT can only be done when the student is actually pursuing the course, i.e., it cannot be done after the course ends.


  • You will have to have a job offer before applying to CPT while in the case of OPT, you can’t do the same.
  • While you’ll receive a course credit for doing the CPT, the same doesn’t apply when you’re doing the OPT
  • You can do the OPT in between your course or after the course finishes but in case of CPT, you’ll have to do it while you’re in college itself, you cannot pursue it after the course ends.
  • OPT are of two types, pre-completion and post-completion and CPT are of two types, full-time and part-time.
  • It is required to apply for CPT two weeks prior to commencing of the program which may take 7 to 10 days for processing and for OPT you have to apply to USCIS and the processing time here is a bit longer, it can take up to 90 days.
  • While there is a STEM extension on the OPT, there is no such extension for CPT Together:

It is also possible for a student to do both the OPT and CPT together provided that the candidate finish both of them in the prescribed time allotted. Some people say it is better to opt for CPT when one is looking for an internship and when one is looking forward to a full-time job, the OPT here sticks out as the better option.