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TimJun 10, 2024 1:44:30 PM4 min read

OPT to Day 1 CPT: Understanding OPT Grace Period

For international students in the United States, taking advantage of Optional Practical Training (OPT) is often the first step to develop their career in the country. However, with the declining selection rate of the H-1B visa lottery, an increasing number of international students are choosing Day 1 CPT to maintain their legal status in the U.S.

During the transition from OPT to Day 1 CPT, many students need to navigate the OPT grace period. This blog provides crucial information about the OPT grace period, helping international students avoid potential legal risks.

Table of Contents

1. What is OPT Grace Period?

2. Eligibility for OPT Grace Period?

3. What You Can Do During OPT Grace Period?

4. What You Can't Do During OPT Grace Period?

5. Transitioning to Day 1 CPT

6. Conclusion

 

What is OPT Grace Period?

After the end date of OPT, international students will have a 60-day grace period. During this period, you are allowed to stay in the U.S. and pursue options such as changing status, transferring SEVIS records, and planning for leaving the country. If you remain in the U.S. past the end of your 60-day grace period without transferring to a new program or having filed a change of status petition, this is a violation of your F-1 status and could lead to negative consequences to your U.S. visa record.

 

Eligibility for OPT Grace Period

You are eligible for the OPT grace period only if you have not exceeded the 90 unemployment days during the OPT(or 150 days during OPT and STEM OPT Extension).

 

What You Can Do During OPT Grace Period?

Below are options for students during the OPT grace period:

1. Transfer to Another School

  • You can enroll in a new academic program at the same or a different institution. If planning to attend a Day 1 CPT university, ensure that you transfer your SEVIS record to the new school by the end of your grace period. 
  • Your OPT grace period will end immediately after you transfer your SEVIS. However, with a new SEVIS record and a new I-20, you can continue your legal stay in the U.S.

OPT to Day 1 CPT: SEVIS Transfer Guide

 

2. Apply for a Change of Status

  • You may apply for a change of status with the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) if you are eligible for another nonimmigrant status.
  • Consulting with an immigration attorney can provide guidance on this process. 

What is Change of Status?

Change My Nonimmigrant Status (USCIS website)

 

3. Prepare for Departure

  • Make arrangements to leave the U.S. within the 60-day grace period if you do not intend to use Day 1 CPT or change your status.

 

What You Can't Do During OPT Grace Period?

Below are things that international students are not allowed to do during the grace period:

1. Work

  • Employment is strictly prohibited during the OPT grace period.
  • Unauthorized employment can jeopardize your legal status and future visa applications.
  • You may need to take a leave of absence from work during your transition from OPT to Day 1 CPT.

 

2. International Travel

  • Traveling outside the U.S. during the grace period can be risky as you may not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. with your OPT I-20.
  • If you need to travel internationally during this period, make sure that you have obtained a new I-20 from your Day 1 CPT program.

 

Transitioning to Day 1 CPT

If you choose to transition to Day 1 CPT to continue working in the U.S., here are some essential steps to follow:

1. Research Day 1 CPT Universities and Programs

 

2. Apply and Obtain a New I-20

  • Submit your applications to the school. You can waive all application fees if applying through us!
  • Once accepted, transfer your SEVIS and obtain a new I-20 with CPT authorization.

 

3. Inform Your Employer

  • Notify your employer about your transition plan.
  • Provide necessary documentation to HR to update your employment records.
  • You can negotiate with your employer about your leave of of absence.

 

Conclusion

The OPT grace period is a critical time for making strategic decisions about your future in the U.S.. By understanding your options and adhering to the guidelines, you can ensure a smooth transition to Day 1 CPT to maintain employment.  For more detailed information and guidance, please reach out to us and book a free consultation. We will help you transition from OPT to Day 1 CPT smoothly.

 

Relevant Readings: 

What is Day 1 CPT?

Day 1 CPT Costs & Scholarships

Selecting a Day 1 CPT School by Tuition

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Tim

Senior educational consultant with 10+ years experience

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