Some of you might be in situations, where you realized after couple years of work life that your first masters (MS) in US was not the right one in your desired field of interest and decide to do second Masters in US. Some of you might even be passionate to quit your current job and go back to F1 visa to study second masters. It would be good if you get to know about the OPT(Optional Practical Training) rules related to doing second masters. Let me try to shed some light on the OPT rules for second masters. Read Working on OPT vs CPT in US for some background info.
Do you get OPT for second Masters (MS/ MBA) in US ? Regular 12 month OPT ?
Short answer, NO (in most cases)…unless you have not used up all of your 12 month OPT after completing first masters or even applied for 12 month OPT and got it approved by USCIS. Let me explain with an example, lets say first you graduated with MS in Computer Sciences and have worked on OPT for 12 months or applied for 12 month OPT and got it approved. After couple years, you decide to convert to F1 visa and do MS in Marketing or MBA in Finance as full time student…Although your second masters belongs to different major, you will NOT get one year OPT period because you have used 12 month OPT (or even applied for it and got it approved).
DHS rules states that “Twelve Months of Regular OPT is available for each Higher Level of Study” ( see below screenshot from DHS.gov website). You get 12 month OPT for one degree level, even if in different fields or majors”. i.e. you get one 12 month OPT for Bachelors, One for Masters and one for PhD. The majors or number of degrees in one level does not matter. You only get one OPT for one level.
What are your options for getting second OPT ? 24 Month OPT Extension – STEM ?
USCIS says that you can split your 12 month full time OPT period between two masters degrees. Even though it sounds you can do it, it may be difficult for students to plan for their OPT of second masters down the lane after few years…talk to your DSO( designated school official) or international advisor at your school for more info.
- STEM Degree : If your degree falls under STEM Category and you have not used your 24 month STEM OPT extension for your first degree either Masters or Bachelors level, then you may be eligible to use that 24 months OPT extension. You will need to speak to DSO on this and get this clarified. As per USCIS you are eligible to use your 24 month extension, even if your current degree or new (second Masters) does not fall under STEM category. Read Official USCIS OPT STEM Extension FAQs .
Impact of NOT having OPT for second Masters :
Not getting 12 month regular OPT for second masters in US puts you in a difficult spot with no time left for job search or do extended internship…You need to have a H1B sponsor right after graduation. Unfortunately, it can be one the hurdles you would have to deal with when you take up second masters.
If you are considering second masters, I highly recommend you talk to your prospective school’s International student advisor or DSO and get advice before you jump all in on F1. If you do not follow the rules and engage in unauthorised OPT or CPT, you are violating student status and it will have impact, when you apply for H1B petition…Also, you can discuss with a qualified attorney, if you are not clear on any of these topics. Also, read the references below for more clarification.
What are your thoughts ? Any OPT related info about Second Masters ?
You should read Will I get CPT to work from Day One in Second Masters ?
- DHS – USCIS Official – OPT Eligibility
- Rutgers University OPT FAQs
- Ivy league : Cornell University OPT FAQs
- Southern Ilinois Edwardsville OPT FAQs
Image credit :https://openclipart.org/detail/169684/graduation