President Obama recently announced plans to expand a training program for international students in the U.S., giving them access to professional training in cities at the forefront of their fields of study.
The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program makes it possible for students to extend their visas for internships and training programs for 12 months. For F-1 visa holders studying science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), the OPT offers extensions up to 29 months.
Where do students with all that extra time and ambition go? Five cities retain the most OPT students, a Brookings Institution study finds:
Seattle: Students who come to study in this rainy city benefit from the huge number of IT and software companies in the area, including Microsoft and Amazon.com.
Las Vegas and Honolulu: Both cities are world leaders in the hospitality services industry. They offer opportunities for beyond-the-classroom experience with large hotel and tourism companies.
Miami: Miami is a financial capital for the Caribbean and much of South America. It makes an attractive option for students looking to get experience in the banking world.
New York: Last but not least, the “Big Apple” boasts an enormous economy — comprising everything from finance to fashion. New York attracts the most OPT-bound students and retains more than 75 percent of them.
The journey starts here
International students can learn about their eligibility for OPT, as well as the 17-month extension for training in STEM fields, during or after their education. Take advantage of many other opportunities for international students to gain real-world experience.