optional practical training statistics
OPT | USA Visa

Mind Blowing Statistics About Optional Practical Training and STEM OPT Extension

OPT is an Acronym for Optional Practical Training. For an F1 Student studying in America, OPT period provides Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work in the USA during the course of study or after graduation. F1 students can make use of Initial 12 months OPT Period post Graduation.  Qualified students can get an additional 17 months of OPT period via STEM OPT Extension.

Following Infographics explains some of the FAQ’s about OPT, STEM OPT, OPT Period, statistics from USCIS.

Types of Optional Practical Training

types of opt

There are three types of OPT

  1. Pre-Completion OPT: Student should have completed 1 Academic Year in the school.
  2. Post-Completion OPT: Available after student graduates. Only once per degree level. (Student with double Masters can get Only One OPT)
  3. STEM OPT Extension: 17 months OPT for STEM Graduates. STEM OPT Extension Rule was Revoked by Federal Couts on Aug 12, 2015.

Pre-Completion OPT provides an Option to work before Graduation at times when CPT can’t be utilized.  Above graphics shows the difference between the 2 Types of OPT.

OPT Approval Process

Here’s a timeline of Entire I-20 Generation to OPT Approval process.

opt approval process

Here’s the description of OPT Approval Process and Timeline

  1. DSO Issues I-20: This is the first step of an F1 student’s journey to the USA. After the student is accepted into a college, DSO will generate I-20 using the SEVIS system.
  2. Visa Interview: Students then attends F1 Visa Interview to get Approval to enter U.S.A.
  3. Port of Entry: CBP officer at the Port of Entry approves student’s Entry into USA and student is now officially on F1 Visa Status until the Duration of Stay (or I-20 Expires)
  4. School Begins: Students registers at the College and Semester begins
  5. Pre-Completion OPT: After 1 Academic year, student in F-1 Visa is eligible for Pre-Completion OPT
  6. Post-Completion OPT: After Graduation, student is eligible for Post-Completion OPT  period of 12 months
  7. STEM OPT Extension: Qualifies STEM students can apply for additional 17 months STEM OPT Extension

OPT Statistics: 2008 to 2013

Here’s some key Optional Practical Training Statistics from 2008 to 2013 including a total number of applications received by USCIS, Approval, Denials and Revocations.

opt statistics

It should be fairly straightforward to estimate the OPT Applications for 2014 and 2015 based on the above trend. If you are applying for H1B Visa, above  OPT numbers give an estimate of expected number of H1B Visa applications that would come from graduates from U.S. Colleges and Universities. Next chart shows the total number of STEM OPT Graduates in USA as of FY 2013 (that’s the latest data available).

optional practical training statistics

You can assume that in FY 2013 at least 25,000 H1B Visa applications should be filed under Advanced Degree Cap based on the above statistics.

One Big OPT Infographics:

what is optional practical training




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  1. Hi,

    Due to travel to India I could not apply to STEM extension. My current OPT expires on Jan 16, 2016. I returned from India and applied for extension asap and my application was received on 21st Dec, 2015. I got the receipt showing application in process with case number. Since USCIS takes up to 3 months (90 days) to process I would be passing the date 12 Feb 2016 mostly. What do you think would the application be rejected or even if I get approved with end date Feb 12th, 2016 but by the time I would receive it the authorization would be expired. As last time I got my OPT EAD in exact 3 months received in Feb 27th 2015 with a start date Feb 15th, 2015 and expiry Jan 16th, 2016. Even if they take 2 months still I would pass Feb 12th, 2016 date. What do you guys think? I am nervous!

  2. Hi Raghu , I am on OPT right now ,and my opt period expires in the month of May 16, 2016 . Just wished to know that , ideally when is the right time to a apply for stem extension and also when should my employer initiate the process of filing of H1B

    1. H1B – they should start now or within this month. If not, talk to your manager right now.
      OPT Ext – If the rule is implemented by then.

  3. I applied for my opt stem extension in october last week. My current EAD expires on feb 2016. Any idea what would be the expiration date for my new EAD card? I see comments saying the new EAD cards which are being issued now have the expiration date set to feb 12,2016.

    1. I applied for Post-OPT in November as I am graduating this in December,2015. But, 4 days ago I got a mail from my advisor stating that I can not graduate as I am yet to take up another course. Now, If my OPT is approved and if I am not yet graduated, what will happen? Can I work ? Can I apply for H1b ?

      1. Hi Abhiram,

        I am in the similar problem. Can you just guide me what happens when your EAD is issued and one hasn’t still graduated.

  4. Once you are out of status, you have 60 days from the last date of authorization to stay to leave the country. It is correct and this has been the rule.

  5. I applied for my STEM OPT during early September, it was accepted on late August and I got full 17 months extension. However, my friend applied later, he got his EAD recently which is valid till February, 2016, I don’t know the exact date though. Interesting fact is, he got a note from USCIS saying they might issue him with another EAD with full extension in future, which means probably USCIS is working on it. Another thing is, our company lawyer informed us that those who got their full extension should not have any problem, which is hard to believe though.

    1. In the event of STEM OPT extension, there is likelihood of DHS sending the extension authorizations. But for now, whatever date appears on your STEM OPT extension EAD is immaterial. If it is beyond Feb 12th 2016 then read it as 02/12/2016. Hope for the best.

  6. Guys, I was wondering if anyone heard of any latest development on this?
    I googled a lot but haven’t seen new from any authentic source.
    Is it a good or a bad sign?
    This is the only site where there is some discussion/activity going on.
    I am getting increasingly worried.

    1. Dev – There’s really no updates from DHS, ICE or USCIS. Time is running out and they have to propose the rule making ASAP.

  7. What does the below post mean.?
    As you know, a D.C. federal judge last month said the 2008 Department of Homeland Security rule that allows STEM graduates in F-1 status to obtain an additional 17 months of OPT time in the U.S. is deficient because it wasn’t subjected to public notice and comment. Shortly, thereafter, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers filed an appeal of this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. We have some details on the arguments being made in the appeal by the union.

    OPT/CPT Blast Resume to 2500+ employers

    There are four key issues that the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers is appealing:
    1. WashTech is challenging the district court’s dismissal of its challenge to the initial 12-month OPT program due to lack of standing;
    2. Whether the district court erred by holding that DHS was within its statutory powers when allowing students admitted on F-1 visas to stay in the US after graduation;
    3. Whether the district court should have applied Skidmore rather than Chevron deference to DHS rulemaking because the agency did not provide a notice and comment period; and
    4. Whether the district court should have vacated the STEM OPT rule immediately instead of allowing DHS time to issue a new regulation.
    Although the appellate briefs have not been filed yet, I will keep you posted as more information about WashTech’s legal arguments becomes available.

    Is this any good for the students in STEM OPT.?

    Can someone please explain what Washington Alliance of Technology Workers appealed on.?

    1. It’s not good for sure.

      As many of you may not know, Washington Alliance filed an appeal challenging if DHS even have authority to issue STEM Ruling and only congress can do that.

      1. One of my friends who had applied for an OPT extension got his EAD Card yesterday, he got a 17th Month Extension (i.e Until 03/30/2017) and he got it within 2 Months .

  8. Hello Raghu,

    Just a request. Will it be better if we can ask about this Feb 12 2016 as end date issue in EAD cards from DHS , to Mr.Murali Bashyam ?

    Maybe he can answer better and would be good to have a solution for these confusions.


    1. Refer to my previous reply to a comment. It doesn’t really matter how long they are approving , if DHS don’t fix the Rule.

      If they are approving till Feb 12, 2016 means they are ignoring STEM folks?
      Heck No. Only impact is if the rule is implemented in right way, those with validity only till Feb 12, 2016 have to apply for extension one more time.

      If they are issuing the EAD as usual (validity beyond) feb 12, 2016, it impacts only if rule is fixed.

      1. I received my EAD card a week back and it has expiry date as 02/26/2016. My i20 has dates as 02/26/2017. But the category in my card reads as 17 months extension. I thought it was a typo and when I tried to contact the USCIS, requesting them to correct the typo, they responded to me saying, “Your case has been reviewed and it was determined that the final decision rendered on your case was accurate. No correction will be made because the validity date of the I-765 C03 status was granted based on the eligible document provided in the file. Therefore, the previous decision will remain unchanged.”

        I do not have any document suggesting any date ending on 02/26/2016. This is confusing because if they were going to issue cards only until Feb 12, then the date should not have been 26th in mine. Also if they have issued it based on the Stem extension ruling they should have mentioned it on the reasoning. Clearly that’s not the case.

        1. Thanks for the comment.

          I think this is happening on case by case and similar to H1B Visa approvals. When the time comes, after (if) DHS implements the rule, you can apply for extension. You have to figure out how ling it takes to approve EAD and apply based on that.

        2. Hi Raghav,
          This is the exact thing that happened to me. My STEM extension has an expiry date in Jan 2016 when it should be Jan 2017. Same date and month. But they printed the year as 2016. How did you proceed from here ? I made a E-Request to USCIS for a typo correction. But no response from them yet

          1. Rahul – It’s unfortunate and I seen several people reporting the same. Can you update this thread when you find the answer on how to correct it?

          2. So I contacted the USCIS via phone, they came back after the review saying ” No correction will be made because the validity date of the I-765 C03 status was granted based on the eligible document provided in the file. Therefore, the previous decision will remain unchanged”. So I went to my school International students office and asked my adviser for help. She emailed the USCIS explaining the situation and I was asked to send a letter explaining the situation and the error and also send copies of my I-20 and other documents. So I did that a month ago and I got a case update saying my application was approved and I would receive a confirmation via mail. I hope the document is cleared of typo and all good to go.

          3. I went to my school International students office and asked my adviser for help. She emailed the USCIS explaining the situation and I was asked to send a letter explaining the situation and the error and also send copies of my I-20 and other documents. So I did that a month ago and I got a case update saying my application was approved and I would receive a confirmation via mail. I hope the document is cleared of typo and all good to go.

    1. It doesn’t really matter how long USCIS is issuing the EAD card (validity).
      As it stands, work authorization expires on feb 12, 2016. After DHS publishes the rule, those with less than 17 months validity would have to file another application (added expense).

      I think this is similar to how USCIS approved H1B for less than 3 years (sometimes 1 year to 2 years) or F1 visa being issued only for 2 years, not 5 years.

      1. Hi,

        Are you sure that is how it works?

        The rule allows a 17 month extension for OPTs in STEM fields and the rule is valid till Feb 12, 2016. Which means, if DHS doesn’t act by then, STEM extensions wouldn’t be given(it wouldn’t even be an option) for anyone whose OPT is set to expire after the 12th of Feb, 2016. Isn’t this how it ought to be interpreted?

        Does it actually mean, all STEM extensions granted until then become invalid even though the rule was very much valid? Does the verdict from the judge “specifically” mention this? Yes, it says something to the effect of – immediate cancellation would cause major hardship and disruption. But not that all granted STEM extensions would become invalid.

        People tend to bring up the EAD cards for DACA that were rescinded. But USCIS rescinded only those cards that were issued after the court’s injunction came into effect – in that particular case, the injunction was effective immediately. Nothing was done about those that were issued before. It is very different from what is happening in case of OPTs, isn’t it?

        Where have I gone wrong with my interpretation? Could we pose these questions to Mr. Murali Bashyam to get a better understanding of these questions?


        1. @Ajit –

          Anyone with STEM Extension beyond Feb 12, 2016 becomes invalid. So, they have to stop working from Feb 13, 2016 irrespective of validity beyond Feb 12, 2016.

          One can revived STEM extension yesterday from USCIS with expiry in Dec

  9. Since there is a debate on this EAD card being issued to people with end date of Feb 12,2016..Can anyone from their friend or whomsoever u got the info. from can post a picture of the EAD card ?

    Just erase the name and other details, and can show the end date at least, right ? Till now most of them don’t know whether is info is true or not and who has seen the card visually ?

  10. WOW! This is news to me. USCIS Issuing EAD with End Date of Feb 12, 2016. This is not the end of STEM Extension. I’m thinking DHS should start Rule Making within next 2 to 3 weeks.

    1. I’m pretty sure it is true because same information was relayed to us by our DSO at my university. We were told until this court ruling holds OPT STEM may be only given until Feb 12 2016.

      After reading lot of articles online many lawyers seem surprised that DHS hasn’t responded to this yet nor commented about the same. Is this a sign this court decision might not be challenged at all by the DHS?

  11. The New OPT extensions that are being issued after the court ruling are only valid until Feb 2016. Many of friends who’ve applied for an extension got their EAD’s Valid until Feb 2016. I wasn’t very much bothered about the revoking of OPT extension until now, because I always hoped that this situation would be fixed by feb 2016. But I’m really concerned now.

    1. Are you sure that the new stem OPT EAD cards issued are given with end date as feb 12th ? ( i mean not given for 17 months)

      if DHS/USCIS is giving end date as Feb 12th on newly issued EAD cards,
      then it can be persumed that the DHS/USCIS is not going to fight against the court ruling.

      The reason is because, no student/DHS wants any one to pay 380 USD again to get EAD “from feb 2015 to remaning months”, which is a duplicate effort in processing the applications and 380 USD loss to students.(if the new rule is passed via comment and notice procedure)

      Since DHS/USCIS knows they are not going to pass the rule, they are issuing new EAD cards only till feb 12th 2016 (my guess) ?

      1. Yes, Even though the dates on his Extension I20 are for a Duration of 17 Months. The EAD Card he got has it’s Validity only until Feb 2016

          1. I have pramit posted on the blog stating that he got EAD card with validity date until Dec 2017. Mr. Anonymous can you please validate your post.?

          2. yup….if a person applied after 12th Aug…then there is no chance that he/she receives OPT extension approval within 1.3 months…..and that is till Feb 12,2016……sorry to say but i think Mr. Anonymous is misguiding all….

    2. Is this true? I have seen this in some other website too. But no source was provided. Do you have authentic information.

      If it is true, its really bad news for International students. It will create lots of stress and unrest in student community, who came to USA with many hopes and aspiration.

      1. You are not going to find a source. News like these are passed between friends. Only way to validate is to have someone post a screenshot of EAD card.

  12. When is DHS/USCIS going to respond to the court ruling?

    Only 5 more months left, Is this time sufficient to make a rule by following comment and notice period?
    (Most of the working days in Nov gone with Thanks giving holidays & Dec People hardly work)

    at this point of time i see only 60%(not happening) & 40% happening for stem opt students not getting affected after feb 12th.

    what say Raghu?

    1. It is difficult to predict though expectation is DHS will do before Feb. But they need to clear the doubts by announcing what they are planning to do. They may ask more time from court if it is not feasible to finish before feb, But still how can they do within 4 to 5 months by studying all the comments and make a decision

      1. Hopefully. But all students who are going to be impacted can keep a date in mind. If any rule is not published by Oct 14th (because a rule needs 60 day comment period and it has to be published for 60 days before it goes into effect) – the students may as well start looking for jobs in their home countries so that they are not hit by a shock or financial burden starting Feb.
        It is also very likely that due to political reasons, the government will not act on this now. They may challenge this or bring a new rule later on. But whenever any major change happens, someone will be impacted. This time unfortunately its the STEM extension students in the line of fire. Unfortunate but that is the harsh reality.

        1. 30 to 60 days Comment period followed by Comment Review. It took over 3 to 4 months for comment review with H4 EAD Rule due to large number of comments.

          1. Raghu – in that case – assuming DHS needs to allow 60 day comment period + 4 months review period + 2 months the rule must be published before it goes into effect – so there is no sufficient time before February.
            Could that be the reason as of now USCIS is issuing EAD with expiry of Feb 2016? Because if this is the timeline – there is surely going to be an impact (maybe small) for a certain group of people at least.

          2. Raghu Ram news are all fake.Do not believe his words. OPT ends by Feb12 2016.Search for some other jobs. Do not spoil your career by believing hios wpords

      2. Hi Raghu,

        they are lot of rumors on USCIS approving recent OPT extension application only till Feb 2016. Any information on this?.


        1. I applied for OPT STEM Extension on July 15th.
          I got my new card a week back.
          The date on it says December 2017.
          What I heard from my university is those people who have applied before 12th August should be good.

          1. Hi Pramit,

            So, you are saying that even if the rule is vacated EAD validity remains the same according to the EAD card.

            What do you mean by “What I heard from my university is those people who have applied before 12th Augustshould be good.”?

          2. According to the court judgement – understand this clearly please : “Whoever is on STEM Extension as on 13th Feb 2016 – all of them lose that authorization irrespective of the expiry date on the EAD card, irrespective of when it was applied and irrespective of when it was approved”.
            Whoever is on stem extension enter their 60 day grace period starting Feb 13th.
            People on regular OPT will continue working till that OPT expires.

          3. How can we trust this without any official update…

            None of the update mentions this 60 days grace period..where did you get it from?

            Please provide legitimate source.

          4. Listen to the intreview I did with Murali. I belive he mentioned the same (60 days grace period).

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