Table of Contents

CPT, OPT, STEM & H1B

Who are these people we are talking about?

To understand everything and the context of the timeline of a personal visa, we have to understand a few terms.

First of all, let’s understand the different types of students.

  1. Undergrad students
  2. Graduate students
  3. Ph.D. Students
  4. People who come directly to the US through outsourcing companies.
  5. Dependent on a visa holder.

What are the visa types and timeline for it?

Now let us learn a little bit about the types of visas that exist.

  1. F1/J1 is the type of visa given when you come to the united states as a student. It could be just for an exchange semester, in which case you will be given a J1 visa.
  2. CPT is the US government’s temporary work authorization while you are still enrolled in college.
  3. OPT is optional practical training, and this kind of work visa is given to you right after your degree is finished. This is given to all the students who are enrolled in a full-time program at a US university.
  4. STEM extension – This is the extension given to courses that come under Science Technology Engineering and Math. The information about such courses is not always available on the webpage of the university.
  5. H1B is the specialty visa that is given to foreign employees for specialty occupations. You can read more about H1B visas here – H1B: History, now and the future.
  6. H4 – This type of visa is given to the spouse of the people with an H1b Visa. It gives authorization for the spouse to work in the US, which by default is not allowed.

Let’s look at the timeline for everyone here.

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If you are an undergrad student

  • Four years of undergrad
  • CPT
  • One year of OPT
  • Two years of STEM extension
  • and then H1b

If you are a grad student

  • Two years of Masters
  • CPT
  • One year of opt
  • Two years of stem
  • then H1b

If you are a Ph.D. student

  • 4-5 years of PhD
  • CPT
  • One year of opting, and since you will be put under the Hb1 category, you can apply for a green card right away.
  • So Ph.D. students shouldn’t be worried at all.

If you are a person who is coming directly from India

  • You could be of two types, but both types get H1B visas.
  • People who directly come to a company while you get hired by a company in the US
  • Or you are outsourced by TCS, WIPRO, INFOSYS.

And if you are a spouse

  1. F1 Holder – You get a visa type of F2
  2. H1b Holder – You get a visa type of H4 which can be authorized to work upon filing a request and applying for H4 EAD