Beacon Immigration PLLC

F-1 Visa

Student Visa USA

International students can study in the U.S. using an F-1 student visa. F-1 students may study in the U.S. for the duration of their program and may sometimes even work. Many students go on to graduate and eventually become American citizens.

F-1 Optional Practical Training

The first step toward F-1 students staying more permanently in the U.S. is usually through Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows students to work in their field of study. OPT is either pre-completion (during your studies), or post-completion (after graduation).

Applicants must first request a recommendation from their Designated School Official (DSO) after completing one year of full-time study. The DSO will assist you in submitting the necessary forms to USCIS. Once USCIS approves your application, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Pre-completion OPT is typically part-time, allowing you to engage in employment while continuing your studies. Post-completion OPT, on the other hand, allows for full-time employment after completing your degree program. The maximum period for post-completion OPT is usually 12 months. However, if you have obtained a qualifying degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM), you may be eligible for a 24-month extension through the STEM OPT program.

F-1 OPT Grace Period

Once a student’s degree program finishes, they typically have a 60-day grace period to change to another visa type. If the student works using OPT, the 60-day grace period usually starts on the last day authorized on their work card.

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is designed to complement a student’s academic learning with practical work experience. To obtain CPT, students must first secure an internship or other employment opportunity that corresponds with their academic program. Once the student has a job offer, their DSO will issue an I-20 form, authorizing the student to work.

CPT can be particularly helpful for recent graduates who were not selected in the H-1b lottery. Such students may be able to enter a graduate school program with F-1 status and immediately begin working in their field, a process known as Day 1 CPT. They can use this time to enter the H-1b lottery again the next year, or pursue another immigration avenue, such as green card sponsorship.

OPT Green Card

Many F-1 students use their time in school or working with OPT/CPT to pursue a green card. Recent graduates may find good fortune in self-sponsoring their own green card, either through the EB-1a or the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) programs. Or, they can pursue employment sponsorship through their employer while using OPT or CPT work authorization.

F-1 Premium Processing

Note that USCIS now allows immigrants to use Premium Processing when they wish to change their immigration status to F-1 student. Applicants can now pay a $1,750 fee when changing their status to F-1, and USCIS is obligated to process their application within 30 days.

Additionally, applicants who need OPT or STEM OPT quickly can pay an additional $1,500 to have USCIS process their work authorization application within 30 days.

 Student Visa Lawyer

If you need help applying for a student visa, or for OPT or CPT work authorization, it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney. Please contact us today: +1 845-288-2435 /

Beacon Immigration PLLC is a law firm located in the Hudson Valley of New York at 6 Eliza Street, Suite 5, Beacon, NY 12508 (Dutchess County).