Why You Should Not Apply for OPT in 2023 

 August 26, 2023

By  Chuky Ofoegbu

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International students often have several time sensitive decisions to make while pursuing higher education in the United States (US). One such decision is whether they should complete the Optional Practical Training (OPT). 

The OPT is a work authorization given to international students who hold an F-1 visa in the US. This authorization allows international students to work in the country for up to one year. 

You can work on your OPT before or after completing your studies. This is referred to as pre-completion or post-completion OPT, respectively. Most international students choose to pursue post-completion OPT.

As the name implies, the OPT is not mandatory for graduation. Therefore, some international students might choose not to pursue pre-completion or post-completion OPT. 

With that said in this article, we'll look at good reasons why to pursue OPT and reasons why the OPT may not be the best fit for you.

Let's dive in! 

Reasons for Pursuing Post-Completion OPT

The decision to pursue your post-completion OPT will be informed by several factors, including your career, business, and educational goals. Let’s look at some of the more common reasons. 

1. A strong interest in gaining employment in the US 

Many international students choose the F-1 visa over other student visas because of the work authorization flexibilities it allows, including the OPT. So, you should consider applying for OPT if you want to seek employment in the US. 

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2. A strong interest in starting your own business in the US 

During your one-year post-completion OPT, you can start a business instead of seeking employment. However, your business activities must be related to your field of study. 

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3. Intentions of living and working in the US long term 

Some international students enjoy their US university experience so much that they want to live and work in the country for longer. These students then apply for temporary working visas like the H-1B, which allows them to live and work in the US for up to six years beyond their OPT period. You could also obtain a green card that allows you to permanently live and work in the US.

Longer-term working visas like the H-1B visa and other employment-based green cards are only obtained by an employer who decides to sponsor you. As such, many international students with F-1 visas establish the employer-employee relationship required for an H-1B visa or green card sponsorship through OPT employment. 

4. Plans to obtain the 24-month STEM OPT extension

You can only get this 24-month extension if you obtain a degree within a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field. F-1 international students looking to obtain this extension must have a post-completion OPT approval. In addition, they must have used up all their post-completion OPT days before they can tap into the 24-month STEM OPT extension. 

Reasons to NOT Apply for Post-Completion OPT 

1. A weak interest in gaining employment in the US

Starting a career in the US is not a walk in the park for many international students. Therefore, if you have a weak interest in working in the US, you won’t be able to mentally withstand the difficulties many international students face when starting their careers in the US. 

2. Lack of interest in pursuing employment in the US

There are many good reasons for having no interest in working in the US, including better employment opportunities in your home country or a different country.

Another valid reason for having no interest in pursuing employment after completing your studies is the pursuit of another educational program. This reason is common among international students who want to pursue a postgraduate degree instead of immediately joining the workforce.

3. A strong intention of changing your immigration status

If you want to change your immigration status from the F-1 visa to another status that does not allow you to work, a post-completion OPT might not be necessary.

You might want to go from the F-1 student visa to a B-1, B-2, or J-1 visa, for example. None of these visas allows you to work in OPT. Thus, post-completion OPT would be unnecessary. 

4. If you want to avoid the limitation of OPT 

To pursue the OPT, you must be seeking employment or starting a business that’s related to your field of study. 

So, the OPT may not be the best fit for you if you want to work or start a business in a different field. 

5. The cost of applying for the OPT

The filing fee for the OPT is $410. In addition, many international students must pay an administration fee to their international student offices to get approval to file for post-completion OPT. In some US universities, this administration fee is approximately $300. 

Whether you pursue the OPT is entirely up to you. However, this decision will be rooted in your career plans. Whichever option you choose, we wish you the best in your career or business ventures. To learn more about the post-completion OPT, you can check our ultimate guide to OPT right here.

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Chuky Ofoegbu

With almost a decade of experience pursuing higher education in the United States, I fully understand the pain points foreign students endure. I created this website to help foreign students successfully navigate their way through the challenges they will face while living in the United States.

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