Practical Training

As an F-1 international student you have the option of working in the United States by engaging in practical training during or after the completion of your program. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school.There are two types of practical training available for F-1 students: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training enable F-1 to be employed off-campus before they complete their academic program if their academic curriculum requires it. F-1 students who obtain authorization for CPT from the DSO in the International Programs office can work off-campus while enrolled in classes and or during their summer vacation period, with support from their faculty, if specific conditions have been met. The training, internship or work must relate to your major and the experience must be part of your program of study.        

  • CPT must relate to your major and the experience must be an integral part (required) of your program of study and you must be enrolled in an internship course
  • Graduate students may be authorized for CPT during the first semester of study if the program requires this type of experience.
  • Your DSO will provide you a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” that shows that the DSO has approved you for this employment.
  • You can work on CPT either full-time or part-time but only part-time while school is in session.
  • CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement with your academic advisor.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

If you are a student on an F-1 Visa and will be completing a course of study, you may be eligible for 12 months of employment through Optional Practical Training (OPT). Unlike CPT, OPT does not require a job offer to apply. Students on an F-1 Visa are eligible to apply for 12 months of OPT for each level of higher education they complete.If you have 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are ineligible for OPT.

  • OPT must relate to your major or course of study.
  • You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, (i.e., you may have 12 months of OPT at the bachelor’s level and another 12 months of OPT at the master’s level)
  • Your DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows the DSO recommendation for this employment.
  • You must apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you a Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” (EAD) upon approving your Form I-765.
  • Wait to start work until after you receive your EAD.
  • While school is in session, you may only work 20 hours per week.
  • You must report changes in name, address, employer and loss of employment to your DSO within 10 days of any change

Applications for OPT can be submitted up to 90 days prior to the completion of your program but must be received by USCIS no later than 60 days after the completion of your program. It takes approximately 90
days for USCIS to process OPT applications.

Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT)

You may qualify for an additional 24 months of OPT under the following circumstances:

  • The degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) program listed here.
  • The employer from which you are seeking employment uses the E-Verify program.
  • You have not previously received a 17-month extension of OPT.               

**To get started on your practical training employment or to get more information please contact our office.