What is an OPT for international students and how to apply | Schiller International University Skip to main content Skip to footer

The Optional Practical Training (OPT) 

Is a program designed for all international students who are in their last year in the United States and want an experience that goes beyond their studies by broadening their education with professional experience. With OPT you can work in the U.S. while you are in your final year of college, or after you finish, it's your choice!

Stand out from the rest, improve your global mindset and access the unique possibility of starting your professional career in one of the most powerful economies in the world. How? We'll tell you how! 

What is an OPT?  

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) an OPT (Optional Practical Training) is a professional internship program for international students who are studying their last year in the U.S. and want to take their first professional steps. It is an exclusive program that allows you to work legally in the USA for up to 12 months, which can be extended up to 24 months if your studies are related to the Tech and Data area. 

This unique practical training benefit will not only allow you to gain valuable experience in the world of work but also start building your professional path in a country full of prospects like the USA. You will gain work experience, develop your career skills, boost your global mindset, and forge assignments with leading companies in your professional sector. 

With the boost of OPT, you will be able to understand how the American market works from the inside, develop yourself, grow professionally and add work experience in one of the world’s leading economies to your résumé. This will enhance your global employability, making you potentially desirable for any international company. 

5 Benefits of an OPT:  

  • Gain practical experience in your field of study.
  • Develop professional and technical skills in an international setting.
  • Establish contacts and professional networks in the United States.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of American work culture.
  • Improve your employment prospects after completing your studies.

How to Get an OPT?  

The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is a valuable opportunity for students to gain work experience related to their field of study in an international setting as well as discovering a market and a country that owns one of the largest economies in the world. That's why we offer several programs that will allow you to access the OPT and give a boost to your global professional career. Here are some of them:

  • Bachelor in International Business: This program consists of 3 years in Madrid and the option to complete 1 year in Tampa. This means that upon successfully completing the final year of the program in Tampa, international students can apply for OPT and take advantage of the aforementioned benefits. And finishing your bachelor in the best of ways. 
  • Master in Business Administration: Our MBA program is another option that provides access to OPT, as long as you choose to pursue it at our Tampa campus. This program equips students with a solid foundation in international business and advanced management skills. Upon completing the MBA program, international students also can apply for OPT and benefit from the job opportunities available in the United States. Sounds good, right?  

How can you apply for OPT?  

As we already mentioned, OPT is aimed at students who are already in the last year of their degree in the USA and want to carry out a professional internship

To apply, it is essential to be enrolled in an educational institution in the United States, studying full time, so you must already have the F-1 visa (student visa) to qualify for OPT authorization.

Apply for OPT based on your needs  

  • There are two different ways to access your OPT:Pre-Finalization: While studying you can work part-time, which means 20 working hours per week. However, during the break between semesters, you will be able to work full-time.
  • Post-Completion: Once you have finished your studies and are ready to dedicate 100% of your time to work in the company of your choice related to your career, you will be able to work full-time for 40 hours per week.  

What are the requirements for OPT?  

  • To study at an educational institution in the United States.
  • Have a valid F-1 visa.
  • Be enrolled in school for at least one academic year.
  • Find a job in a field related to your studies.
  • Have no criminal record during your stay in the U.S.: Arrests, traffic tickets, etc. 

For more information, including how to apply, visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Service website. 

If as a student of Schiller International University, you have any questions, you can contact our administration team for guidance. They will be happy to guide you and help you with your application. 

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