Can I Take Another 12 Months of OPT After My Second Master’s Degree?
You started working in the new job you were so excited about — but after some time, you realize you don’t actually enjoy the field you’re working in.
Believe me, you are not alone in this. Every year, many people in the US quit their jobs and change their careers. Some get offered a job in a different field, while some decide to study a second master’s. If you decide to go back to the United States for your second master, think about it well before doing so, because you might not be able to do a second Optional Practical Training, or OPT for short (also commonly known as an OPT visa).
Another 12 month-OPT in the US
We are really sorry to disappoint you at this point, but unfortunately, if you’ve already attained your first master’s degree in the US, you likely will not be able to do an additional OPT for your second master’s degree.
Why is that? The problem is that the USCIS rules for OPT state that international students can only do one 12-month OPT per one-degree level. This means you can do a 12-month OPT for your bachelor’s degree, then another 12 months for your master’s degree, and ultimately 12 more months for your Ph.D.
Therefore, if you decide to do a second master’s program in the US and have already done a 12-month OPT after your first master’s, you won’t be able to do the second one. And what about those of you who are even more determined, and are wondering whether or not you can do a second OPT if you change your field of studies?
The answer to that is also no. Even if you have done your master’s degree in a completely different field, you won’t be able to do the second one due to USCIS rules.
How can you get a second OPT?
The only chance you have at getting a second OPT is if your first OPT was only 6 months long or shorter than 12 months. For example, if your OPT after your first master studies only lasted for 6 months you would be eligible to do 6 more months after your second master’s degree because in total you are allowed up to 12 months for your OPT. In any case, if you decide to take this route, please get in contact with your international advisor or your designated school official, DSO, at your respective university. They might be able to give you more information on the topic.
So what if I can’t do a second OPT?
You can definitely do your second master’s degree in the United States, but remember that you won’t be able to do a second OPT after you finish if you have already used up the 12 months for another OPT.
The only problem with doing this is that if you are planning to stay in the US after having completed your studies, you would need to have a company sponsor an H1B visa for you upon graduation. If you are proactive, you can get in contact with several companies while studying for your master’s, but it might be difficult to find someone who would sponsor the H1B visa right after graduation.
We recommend that before you decide to study a second master’s in the US, you get in contact with your international student advisor or DSO and ask for advice. They might be able to help you through your doubts and uncertainties and have examples of students who did exactly what you want to do. If you decide to study your second master’s, remember that you will not be able to do a second OPT after your graduation if you have already done 12 months of OPT for another master’s degree.
You have to prepare for the possibility of having to leave the US as soon as your studies finish if you do not find a company to sponsor your visa right away.
We hope you make the right decision and we wish you the best of luck for your second master’s degree in the US! If you have any previous experiences or comments about getting a second master’s and your post-graduate life, please let us know in the comments section below! If you have any other questions about pursuing a master’s degree in the United States, get in contact with us and we will be happy to help you in your decision-making process!