If you currently in the U.S. on F-1 OPT status, and you were not selected in this year’s H-1B lottery, you may be wondering if you could enroll in another University program and once you graduate, whether you can get another 12 months of the OPT.
It will depend. The rule is, that you can apply for 12 months of OPT at each educational level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral).
This means that if you are now finishing your Bachelor’s degree, you could enroll in a Master’s program, and you would be eligible for 12 months of OPT after you graduate from the Master’s program.
For example, if you received a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering in 2019, you started your OPT in summer of 2019, applied in this year’s H-1b lottery and you were not selected, you could enroll into a Master’s program in Engineering in the U.S. After the completion of the Master’s program, you would be eligible for another 12 months of OPT, and if you find a company willing to sponsor you for an H-1b visa, the company could submit the H-1B registration in 2021.
On the other hand, if you received a Master’s degree in Engineering in 2019, you started your OPT in summer of 2019, applied in this year’s H-1b lottery and you were not selected, and you now want to enroll into another Master’s program (e.g. Master’s in Business Administration) you would not be eligible for the 12 months of post-completion OPT as these programs are on the same educational level (Master’s).
If I enroll into another program at the same educational level, will I be able to get a full-time CPT? Is that possible?
If you received your Master’s degree in Engineering in 2019, you were not selected in this year’s H-1B lottery and you want to enroll into a Master’s in Business Administration program that is possible. The questions whether you could get a full-time CPT is a bit complicated. USCIS has been issuing Requests for Evidence in which it argues, that you cannot use more than 12 months of combined OPT and CPT. Therefore, if you already used 12 months of OPT on Master’s level and you want to get a full-time CPT at the new program, USCIS may r raise an argument that you have not been maintaining your F-1 status if you are later selected in the h-1B lottery and file an H-1B Change of Status application.
Please also note that USCIS also scrutinizes Universities that provide full-time CPT to students in their first semester.
Please see our blog post on What other visas you could apply for if you were not selected in the H-1B lottery when you click here.
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