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CPT/OPT for F-1 Students

For more detailed information and instruction on OPT and STEM OPT Extension application, please click Optional Practical Training (OPT) on the left-side MENU, or just click here

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. The maximum amount of time granted to work on F-1 OPT status is 12 months per degree level. You may use some or all of the available 12 months of practical training during your course of study or save the full 12 months to use after you complete your studies.

Authorization for OPT is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and can take at least 90 days to obtain. You may apply up to 90 days before your program end date listed on your I-20 or within your 60-day grace period. Please note, the later you apply the more likely it is you will lose OPT work time. OPT has to be completed within 14 months of your program end date.

Eligibility Requirements, to be eligible to apply for OPT, you must:

  • Have been in full-time student status for at least one full academic year.
  • Maintain a valid F-1 status at the time of the application.
  • Intend to work in a position directly related to your major field of study.
  • Students enrolled in English language training programs are not eligible for OPT.


24-Month STEM OPT Extension

If you have earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, you may apply for a 24-month extension of your post-completion OPT employment authorization if you:

  • Are currently participating in a regular period of OPT (Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on your STEM degree)
  • Are an F-1 student who received a STEM degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List  (PDF),
  • Are employed by an employer who is enrolled in and is using E-Verify
  • Have completed and signed the Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.”
  • For more information about the specific eligibility requirements for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, please visit the STEM OPT Hub on Study in the States.
  • If you are interested in applying for a STEM OPT extension, please see USCIS  Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) page for more information.

Note: You may continue to work on your expired EAD for OPT up to 180 days while your 24-month extension petition is pending if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
  • You properly and in a timely manner filed your application for the 24-month extension with USCIS.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is designed to fulfill the internship requirement of a course of study. It is intended to provide hands-on practical work experience for which the student receives class credit.

  • Students can work up to 20 hours per week during school and up to 40 hours per week during vacation.
  • Students must be in F-1 status for nine months before applying.
  • SEVIS authorization is required. Follow these steps in order to apply for CPT:

* Complete a Request for Work Authorization form by stating internship course number and receiving a signature from your academic advisor.
* Obtain a letter from the employer stating job title, dates of employment, number of hours per week, place of employment and a brief description of the work.
* After submitting your documentation to IPS, your international student advisor will update the report for your employment and issue you a new I-20.
* Important: CPT must be reported by your international student advisor BEFORE you begin your internship.