Curricular and Optional Practical Training for International Students (F-1 Visa)
Practical Training provides the opportunity for studentsto experience the application of classroom knowledge in work setting in order to prepare them for their careers.
Types of Practical Training
A student may be eligible to enter into either Curricular Practical Training, or Optional Practical Training. These situations are discussed below.
I. Curricular PracticalTraining:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined by US immigration regulations as “alternate work/study, internship,cooperative education, or any other type of required internship orpracticum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the schools.” [8CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)].
To be eligible for CPT, a student must:
- have been enrolled for at least three quarters offull-time study and be maintaining F-1 status, or be a graduate student whose degree program requires practical training during the first year of study; and
- be enrolled in a program of study in which thepractical training is an integral part of an established curriculum so that the training:
- is required of all students in that program of study; or
- is required for a particular course or curricular track; or
- is offered under a cooperative agreement between the university and the employer;
- complete the CPT prior to completion of all requirements for their program of study; students may complete their thesis/dissertation during the quarter in which they are authorized forCPT.
Complete information and application procedure are contained in the Curricular Practical Training packet.
Students may not begin working for their CPT employeruntil they have been authorized to do so by an advisor in ISFS. The authorization will be printed on their I-20.
Students may only work for the employer named in theauthorization and may only work during the dates indicated.
Students who engage in more than twelve months offull-time curricular practical training will not be eligible to engage in Optional Practical Training. Application instructions for Curricular Practical Training are available in the ISFS office.
II. Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is authorized by the United States Citizenship andImmigration Services (USCIS). You are eligible to apply forpermission to engage in OPT if you are in F-1 status and have been enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (three quarters). You are eligible for a total of twelve months of OPTfor each consecutive degree level. You may use OPT:
- During your annual vacation and school breaks
- While school is in session for up to 20 hours perweek
- After the completion of all course requirements foryour degree, excluding thesis or equivalent (graduate students only)
- After you complete your course of study NOTE: You must apply at least three weeks before you complete your course of study
Students should apply four months before they want tobegin work. Their application MUST be received by USCIS beforetheir graduation date, thus they should apply no later than three weeksprior to their graduation date.
It takes three to four months for an OPT application tobe processed. When students’ applications are approved, they willreceive a card called an “Employment Authorization Document”(EAD). Students must show this to their employer as evidence thatthey are authorized to work.
Students may not begin working until they have receivedtheir EAD. Once they have their EAD they may work during thedates on the card.
Applications for Optional Practical Training are available in the ISFS office.