Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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CPT is an integral part of your program of study. It adds relevant work experience to your arsenal and gives you course credit. To be eligible for CPT, you need to speak to your Designated School Official (DSO) to understand your schoolโ€™s policy. Generally, you need to:

  • Have completed one academic year as a full-time student in a SEVIS-approved college

  • Have a letter from your employer for either a full-time or part-time position related to your major

Upon completion of the requirements set by your school, you will get a new I-20 showing proof of approval to begin your CPT.

I-20 is a form provided to you by your universityโ€™s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) that provides supporting information on your visa status. It also has a ridiculously long alias: Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is offered to students either during (pre-completion OPT), or after (post-completion OPT), the completion of the program. Similar to CPT, you must obtain approval from your DSO, get your new I-20, and then apply for something called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS. However, unlike the CPT, you donโ€™t obtain a course credit on an OPT.*

โ€‹statsโ€‹On pre-completion OPT, you can work for up to 20 hours a week, since your program is still in session. On post-completion OPT, itโ€™s the opposite. You have to work at least 20 hours a week in a field that is directly related to your field of study.

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