CPT vs OPT for International Students

One of the frequently asked questions simplyOPT.com gets from students is "What is the difference between CPT & OPT".  Below is a summary of differences between CPT & OPT.




CPT requires a job offer


OPT does not require a job offer


CPT requires enrollment in a special class

in which on-the-job training is required

and for which course credit is received

during the time  the employment takes



OPT does not require you to enroll in any



CPT is authorized for a specific employer

for work related to student’s field of studies


OPT allows work w/ ANY employer based on

student’s field of studies


CPT is issued by school


OPT is issued by the USCIS within 90 days

(after preliminary processing by School)

CPT work permit is granted on the I-20 (page 3)

OPT work permit is called the EAD (Employment Authorization Document)

CPT may only be issued for work before graduation.

OPT allows for employment both before and after graduation

CPT usually does not affect OPT as long as CPT is authorized for less than 12 months of full-time employment (more than 20 hours per week). Part-time CPT (20 hours per week or less) is never deducted from OPT.

NOTE: if you work total 4 months of full-time CPT, you will still have 12 months of OPT

OPT authorized part-time (20 hours or less per week) is deducted at half-time rate, but full-time OPT (more than 20 hours per week) is deducted at full-time rate from the 12 months of OPT.

NOTE: if you received 6 full-time months of OPT before graduating you will only have 6 months of OPT left after graduation



simplyOPT.com Team!



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