What is the Difference Between OPT and CPT?

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What is the difference between Internship and OPT?Which is better for a job opportunity? Is it wise to undergo internship in India and join MS during Spring? Does it make any difference if we join MS during Spring or fall?


  • OPT is 1 year work permit given to students after completing Graduate Degree in United States.
  • You have to find a job within 90 days of that 1 year period after graduation, else you become out of status.
  • If your employer is enrolled in eVerify program, you can get upto 29 months of OPT.
  • You have to apply for H1B visa while in OPT.


  • To work as an intern in F1 Visa, you will need to get Internship
  • College then has to issue CPT (Curriculum Practical training)
  • CPT  is work authorization that will allow you to do Internship.
  • CPT can be issued for 1 semester to 364 Days ( rules vary between universities)
  • If you 365 day of CPT, you may not get OPT.

So OPT and CPT are similar in the way it both will allow you to work.  You will need CPT to work as Intern before graduation, you will need OPT to work after completing the degree. In some cases you will get Pre-Completion OPT that will allow you to work before graduation, if you have used all the CPT period.

Universities will allow international students to do internship only after completing 2 semesters (varies between school) or after completing certain number of credits.

Search in the blog for “Spring vs Fall”, many articles have been published on the same topic.

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