International students are eligible to work off-campus after official permission is granted. There are two primary types of off-campus employment for which international students may apply:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
F-1 students may be authorized to participate in a CPT program that is an integral part of their respective curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) requests evidence of direct course relevance of students who want to engage in Curricular Practical Training and requests evidence that the CPT opportunity meet one of the following conditions:
- the training is required of all students in the curriculum, or
- the training is required for a particular course or course track in order to fulfill degree requirements, or
- if the training is not required, the CPT must be a course elective which carries course credit.
Please contact the Office of International Students (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your program’s academic advisor for more information.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
An F-1 student may apply for temporary employment involving practical training "directly related to the student's major area of study and commensurate with the student's educational level." The duration of this employment authorization is a total of 12 months per level. Students are eligible for another 12 months of OPT when they change levels (i.e. from Bachelor's to Master's).
- Post-Completion: Students interested in this practicum must apply before their program of study is complete; otherwise they are ineligible for OPT. Students can apply as early as 90 days prior to the completion of their studies (last day of class). It is recommended that students apply as early as possible in order to receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in a timely manner. By applying early, the student has a better chance of completing the 12 month OPT within the 14 months allowed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) following the completion of the program of study.
- Pre-Completion: This is less common; however, students may apply for and begin the OPT prior to completion of the program of study. There is a limit of 20 hours per week while the student is registered for and taking classes. Students may apply for full-time authorization during the student's annual vacation or during official school breaks only if they intend to register for the following term. Remember, however, that there are only 12 total months available, and that training done before a degree is completed will count against the 12-month total and reduce time available after the degree is awarded.
For assistance with applying for OPT, schedule an appointment with the Office of International Affairs 90 days before your last day of class, and bring the following items with you:
- I-94 card or web printout of I-94
- Current I-20
- Form I-765 (form and instructions)
- Previous EAD (if applicable and available)
- Two (2) photographs (Click for specifications)
- Check or money order for $380.00, payable to Department of Homeland Security