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How Indian students benefit from extension to OPT programme

Posted on September 16, 2016
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Indian Students

The US government had decided to extend Optional Practical Training (OPT) period for foreign student graduates in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) category to 36 months from 29 months five months ago. Let us see how an extension to OPT, a restricted period during which students of the particular courses are allowed to do paid or voluntary work in the US by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration), would benefit Indian students.

After the OPT programme, students need to be holding an F-1 visa and must have completed or should have been pursuing their degree courses for more than nine months in the US.

It gives Indian students more time to get picked up in the H-1B pool. PaGaLGuY quotes Arindam Bhatt, a student pursuing a course at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) as saying that  some students in the US take an F-1 visa after OPT to pursue a one year course or diploma for staying back in the US till they get selected in the H1-B pool. During this wait, they have to bear the expenses of semester fees for their course and other living costs. But with the OPT programme extending its training term to 36 months from the present 29 months, students staying in the US get more time to transfer to H-1B visa.

Some students may not look at settling in America for a long time. These students, who come with the idea only to study and work temporarily in the US, can get a work experience in the US of up to three years in their field of specialization.

According to Harsh Ranade, a graduate student at Chicago University, there is a possibility of priorities being revisited during this work period. Extension for OPT gives students more time to clarify their priorities. It may make students who may have planned to return to India a chance of reconsidering staying back there.

Further, F-1 OPT waives FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes for students. In other words, during their OPT, taxes on Social Security and Medicare are not deducted from the incomes of students.

If you are planning to go to the US to pursue higher education, approach Y-Axis to avail guidance and assistance to file for a visa from one of its 19 offices located in the eight major cities of India.

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