Difference Between OPT and CPT

Difference Between OPT and CPT in the US?


Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) is intended for students who are enrolled in classes. Different, Optional practical training (OPT) is typically utilized only after graduation. Please attend an ISS OPT Information Session for more information about OPT.

You no longer qualify for OPT after accumulating 12 months (365 or more days) of full-time CPT authorization. OPT eligibility is unaffected by part-time CPT authorization or less than 12 months of full-time CPT authorization.




Question #1 – What time does the work/training occur? It happens while the person is enrolled as a student. It happens when a student completes his/her graduation. 
Question #2 – Who gives the training permission? It requires ISS approval and the support of the academic department.  It requires the approval of USCIS(the US government).
Question #3 – What is the process of application? Apply online to ISS. Apply offline to USCIS.
Question #4 – Do I need to be employed before applying? You have to apply for CPT with a job offer. To apply for OPT, you don’t need to have a job.
Question #5 – How much is the processing time? It requires a processing time of 2-3 weeks.  It requires an average processing time of 3-5 months. 
Question #6 – Are there any restrictions?
  • A student can continue to request CPT until the last day of the final quarter.
  • In part time CPT there is no maximum limit.
  • In full time CPT the maximum limit is 364 days.
A person has to do 12 months full time + 24 months of STEM extension(if eligible).


Question #1 – What distinguishes Optional Practical Training (OPT) from Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

  • CPT must be completed prior to graduation and is employer-specific. CPT is employment that enables you to take part in an internship, practicum, or cooperative education program and is a crucial component of your major curriculum. If CPT is not required, it must be provided, or you must be given credit for CPT or an internship course. Any student who satisfies the eligibility requirements is eligible for OPT, and you are not required to earn credit.
  • OPT is generally completed after graduation and is not employer-specific.

Question #2 – Can I submit a CPT and OPT application at the same time?

  • You may submit applications for CPT and OPT simultaneously. We can only approve CPT, through the last day of your last quarter.
  • OPT applications may be submitted as early as 90 days prior to and as late as 60 days following the last day of your final quarter.
  • Final quarter end dates are not your graduation date or the last day of class, but rather the last day of the quarter as defined by the academic calendar of the University of Washington.

Question #3 – Does OPT eligibility change if CPT is used?

  • As much CPT, as is required for their degree program, is allowed for students to use. Students are not qualified for OPT after receiving a total of 12 months of full-time CPT authorization. Part-time CPT otherwise has no impact on OPT; however, many overlapping, part-time CPTs would count toward this restriction.
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