Practical Training

Practical Training Guide for F-1 visa holders

Practical training is available to F-1 students who have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year. An eligible F-1 student may request employment authorization for practical training in a position, which is directly related to his or her major area of study. There are two types of practical training available: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).

Curricular practical training (CPT)

An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in a CPT program, which is an integral part of an established curriculum.PT is defined to be 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. Students who have received one year or more of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies, which require immediate participation in CPT. A request for authorization for CPT must be made to UISí Designated School Official (DSO), Jonathan GoldbergBelle, Office of International Affairs. A student may begin CPT only after receiving his or her I-20 with the DSO endorsement.

To apply for CPT, the student must bring to the Director, Office of International Student Services, the following items:

  1. A letter from the department head or copy of page in university catalog indicating that the employment is required of all students in this major to complete the program. The letter should include the number of hours of work per week. If the employment is not required but is an important part of the program of study, the student will need to bring a letter from his/her academic advisor indicating that the employment will be credit bearing (including the number of credits), and that the employment is an integral part of the academic program. The letter should also specify the number of hours per week of employment, and when the student will complete his/her program of study.
  2. A letter from the employer indicating job title, dates of employment, number of hours of work per week, place of employment, and a brief description of the work.

The Director of Office of International Student Services will then review the documents. If everything is in order he will update the studentís record in SEVIS as being authorized for CPT that is directly related to the studentís major area of study.He will indicate whether the training is full-time or part-time, the employer and location and the employment start and end date. He will then print a copy of the studentís SEVIS Form I-20 indicating that CPT has been approved. He will sign, date and return the SEVIS Form I-20 to the student. The student is then eligible to begin his/her employment.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

An F-1 student may apply for authorization for temporary employment for OPT directly related to the studentís major area of study.† A student may be authorized 12 months of OPT, and becomes eligible for another 12 months of OPT when he or she changes to a higher educational level. The student may not begin OPT until the date indicated on his or her employment authorization document. A student may submit an application for OPT up to 60 days prior to being enrolled for one full academic year, provided that the period of employment will not begin until the completion of the full academic year as indicated by the DSO. Temporary employment for OPT may be authorized:

  1. During the studentís annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session if the student is currently enrolled and is eligible for registration and intends to register for the next term or session;
  2. While school is in session, provided that OPT does not exceed 20 hours a week;
  3. After completion of the course of study, or, for a student in a bachelorís, masterís, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent).OPT must be requested prior to the completion of all course requirements for the degree or prior to the completion of the course of study. A student must complete all OPT within a 14-month period following the completion of study.

The total periods of authorization for OPT shall not exceed a maximum of twelve months during the course of a degree program. Part-time OPT, 20 hours per week or less, shall be deducted from the available OPT at one-half the full-time rate. A student becomes eligible for another 12 months of OPT when he or she changes to a higher educational level. As required by the regulations, an F-1 student seeking OPT may not accept employment until INS has issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to him or her.