Curricular Practical Training (CPT) must be an important part of your studies as well as relevant to the degree objective. In order to participate in CPT you must be enrolled as a full-time student.
CPT may be part-time or full-time. It is important to understand that if you participate in twelve months or more of “full-time” CPT, you will lose your eligibility to apply for twelve months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after you graduate. Time spent on full-time CPT is cumulative.
Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time CPT; employment of more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time CPT. There is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT but you must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. Exception: You may work full-time during official school breaks (i.e., annual vacation and other times when school is not in session).
Authorization for CPT must be granted by your Designated School Official (DSO) before you can begin working. CPT is usually granted for one semester or term. You may only work for the time period authorized on your I-20. However, you may request to extend your CPT. You must extend your CPT before your work authorization expires. You must submit a new letter of employment which states you will be continuing your employment (and include the information listed below). Please be sure to request your extension at least 2 weeks prior to the employment expiration date on your I-20.
At least 2 weeks prior to start of employment or extension, you must bring your letter to the Admissions Office. If your letter is complete, your DSO will enter your CPT employment authorization into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You will be notified when your new I-20 is ready for pick-up. You may not accept any offer of employment or begin employment until you have been given approval to work by your DSO and you have received your new I-20.
Employment letter must be submitted on official letterhead only and must include the following information (See sample letter):
- place of employment (full name and address of employer and telephone number)
- job title
- dates of employment
- number of work hours per week
- brief description of type of employment and name of supervisor
An incomplete employment letter may result in a delay of employment start date or employment extension.
SAMPLE LETTER FROM YOUR COLLEGE
U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
To Whom It My Concern:
This is to certify that (student’s Name) will complete all of the requirements for his/her (type of degree) as of (date). I feel that it would greatly complement his/her formal education if he/she were to obtain permission to engage in practical training in a field related to his/her studies. (Note: please be as specific as possible here.)
(To be signed by your Associate Dean of Dean)
All students on post-completion OPT are required to report any of the following changes within 10 days of the initial change. You may report your changes by logging into your SEVP Portal or by completing and returning the OPT Reporting Form. Remember you are still an F-1 student while on OPT.
- New employment information
- Any change in personal data
- Any change in employer
- Any interruption in employment
90 DAY UNEMPLOYMENT LIMIT
Students on OPT may not remain unemployed for more than a total of 90 days out of a 12 month OPT period. Therefore, it is important that you provide your DSO with information on your employment. Your DSO has the responsibility of reporting this information in SEVIS. Excess unemployment can affect future visa renewals. If you are having a difficult time finding employment please contact your DSO.
GRACE PERIOD AFTER OPT
After completion of OPT, you are allowed to remain in the U.S. for 60 days to prepare to leave the U.S., change your status, or transfer your F-1 to a new school. You may not work during this grace period.