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OPT (Optional Practical Training) and CPT (Curricular Practical Training)
provide F-1 students to get some hands on experience in US. F-1 students, who
meet the requirements for OPT, can work in the U.S. for one year after they
finish their program of study. CPT allows students to be paid for an internship
required to complete their program.

OPT (Optional Practical Training)

A student can work for a maximum of 12 months of full-time OPT per academic

The benefit is available to students who have maintained F-1 or M-1 immigration
status for the past three quarters (9 months) and have either completed their
one-year certificate or two-year Associate's of Applied Science degree.

Application Procedure and Forms

Following items are required:

  • Completed I-765 form

  • All of the Form I-20 s issued to you

  • Passport and I-94 card<

  • Two passport photos

  • A check or money order for $340.00 made payable to USCIS (United States
    Citizenship and Immigration Services) - Note fee may change, so please check
    with USCIS

You can submit the application to USCIS. USCIS will provide you an
identification number on your receipt that can be used to check the process of
your OPT at To check the status of your application you can go to
"Case Status Online."

EAD Approval

When USCIS approves your OPT application, you will be issued the EAD (Employment
Authorization Document) card within a three to four month time period. The EAD
card is the size of your driver's license with a picture and information about
your Optional Practical Training.

Frequently Asked Questions About OPT

Can I leave the U.S. while my OPT is processing?

It is a bit risky to leave country while the processing is going on. You will
need EAD card plus a letter from the employer to re-entry.

Can I travel outside the U.S. after I receive my EAD card?

Once you receive your EAD card you are allowed to travel outside the U.S.,
however, you will want to make sure to have the following documents to re-enter:

  • Signed I-20 within a 6 month period

  • EAD card

  • Valid passport

  • Valid U.S. visa

  • Letter from your employer verifying your employment.

What happens after the EAD expires?

After your EAD card expires you must either leave the U.S. or start a new
program of study with a new I-20 within 60 days.

CPT (Curricular Practical Training)

You may be required to engage in temporary employment to earn credit toward
the certificate or degree in your field of study. If you have F-1 status, you
must request special permission for this kind of paid employment. The permission
is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

1.You may work up to 20 hours a week while school is in session and 40 hours a
week during breaks and vacations.

2. CPT is approved for one quarter at a time. You must obtain approval must
before the start of each quarter if the employment continues.


* You must have been enrolled full-time and in status for one full academic year
to be eligible for CPT.

* The training must be approved by the instructional department as an integral
part of the established curriculum, fulfilling graduation requirements for your
field of study.


1. Obtain a job in your field of study.

2. Obtain approval for the work from the instructional department for college
credit toward graduation.

You can do up to 364 days of CPT without affecting your eligibility for OPT
(Optional Practical Training.) However, if you do 365 days or more of CPT, you
will lose your eligibility for OPT.


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