Students must be aware of and comply fully with the following:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including: “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.” Source: [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]. CPT is available only prior to the completion of your degree program and you must have a job offer at the time of application. CPT employment may not delay completion of the academic program.
There are two types of CPT: required for the academic program and non-required. For CPT that is required, the academic program mandates practical work experience in the field of study to graduate. For CPT that is a non-required part of the program, the practical work experience is for credit and directly related to your field of study.
Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. Though there is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT, you must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
Full-time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. Please be aware that 12 months or more of full-time CPT will invalidate your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). During the academic year (fall and winter semesters), you must be simultaneously enrolled full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
To be eligible for CPT, you must:
NOTE: CPT is processed and authorized term by term. Contact your academic department regarding your department's specific guidelines and follow those guidelines for CPT applications. Please note that your department has discretion in recommending CPT.
Be written on the company's letterhead
Be addressed to you
Include job title
Provide job description
Specify the employment address (street, city, state, and zip code)
Specify if the employment is full- or part-time (if part-time, the number of hours per week you will work)
Specify the exact dates of CPT employment (keep in mind that CPT can only be authorized one term at a time).
Please note: the job offer letter must have ALL of the information listed above, or your CPT application cannot be processed.
How to Apply for CPT
*****Incomplete requests will not be accepted *******
NOTE: You are authorized to be employed only for the employer, location, and time period specified on the new I-20. Documents that will help you to establish your work eligibility are, for example, your valid passport, Form I-94 and the SEVIS I-20 with CPT work authorization.
You are required to update your address in IVue within 10 days of any change while you are in F-1 status.
CPT authorization is recommended even for unpaid positions (such as unpaid internships), even if the student does not need to provide employment authorization documents to the company. The F-1 regulations are written in such a way that CPT is an authorization to do practical training as part of the curriculum for the academic program, and as such is significant in more ways than simply for the employer to verify employment eligibility.
A position such as an internship may involve employment authorization even when the person is not paid. According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are multiple reasons for officially authorizing CPT:
Finally, if the unpaid internship at some point changes into a paid one (or if your employer decides to compensate you for your work in any way – for example, give you a monetary gift), you won't be able to accept the payment if your internship was not authorized as CPT.
Based on the above, we would advise that if you will have an internship that meets CPT eligibility criteria that you should apply for CPT authorization, even for an unpaid position. If it is not possible for you to obtain CPT authorization, we recommend that at the end of your internship you ask your employer to provide you with a letter confirming that you received no compensation of any kind for your work. Please keep such a letter for your permanent records.
Please meet with us if you have any questions regarding CPT.
OPT is defined in the Federal Regulations as temporary employment directly related to a student's field of study. During OPT, a student remains in F-1 status. The end result of the OPT request process is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS).
To be eligible for OPT, the student must:
Note: Post-completion OPT applications are typically denied by USCIS if the Level of Education indicated in item #4 on the I-20 is “non-degree.”
If for any reason you decide you do not want OPT, you must take immediate action to prevent your I-765 application from being adjudicated by USCIS (i.e. approved or denied).
Once your application is approved, USCIS will issue you an EAD (employment authorization card). Make a copy of your EAD and write your AUID somewhere on the page. Scan and email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a note indicating you applied for OPT and have received your EAD.
Students authorized for post-completion OPT may work part time (at least 20 hours per week) or full time.
Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student's degree program. Employment during pre-completion OPT cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.
Students who are musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short term employers. The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.
Students are required to report changes in employment to us as soon as possible. We recommend that you report changes within 10 business days of the change to avoid situations where a DHS official may determine you to be out of status.
Students on post-completion OPT are only allowed a total of 90 days of unemployment.
If you decide to abandon your OPT before the end date of your EAD and leave the U.S., you must notify us so we can end your SEVIS record. Please submit a departure form or send an email to email@example.com telling us that you have decided to abandon your OPT and the date you plan to depart the United States. We will end your SEVIS record effective the date you indicate you plan to leave the U.S. or the date you notify us, whichever is later. If you do not notify us, you may continue to be billed for health insurance.
During the period you are authorized for OPT, you may decide to apply to another academic program. Once you are admitted to another degree program, it is important to notify our office as the issuance of a new I-20 will effect/terminate your OPT. Please call this office to request an appointment to meet with one of us. If you are admitted to a degree program at another University, our office must transfer your I-20 to that institution so they may issue a new I-20 for you. The issuance of this new I-20 does not end your OPT immediately. Your EAD is terminated as soon as you enter the U.S. with the new I-20 or you check-in for the new program, whichever is earlier. Either one of these events will activate your SEVIS record for the new degree and deactivate your OPT SEVIS record. This means you must immediately stop employment regardless of the card's appearance of validity if you reenter with your new I-20.
Transfer to another school in the U.S. in order to begin a new degree program. Authorization for OPT is not transferable. Your authorization for OPT ends on the transfer release date. If you wish to complete OPT, set the release date for a date after the OPT ends. You can set the transfer release date to occur during the 60-day grace period following post-completion OPT (see the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transfer for F-1 Students (refer to section 6.7)). On your transfer release date, you must stop employment regardless of your EAD card's appearance of validity.
In order to maintain your F-1 status, a new I-20 for change of academic level, new degree program, or transfer must be issued before the end of your 60 day grace period.
If you change your immigration status (e.g. from F-1 to H-1B, F-2, or J-1) during the period of your OPT your OPT ends on the effective date of the USCIS action notice and any unused OPT time is lost (you cannot have both F-1 OPT status and another status at the same time, nor can you return to OPT if your new status is terminated for any reason).
Andrews University is required to notify SEVIS of your new status and requests that you notify our office immediately. To officially record your new status, we will need a copy of the approval notice you received from USCIS. You can get this information to the Registrar's Office in one of two ways:
“Cap Gap” Relief for OPT — H-1B Transitions
Some students may be eligible for an extension of OPT and F-1 status due to the new Cap Gap Relief rules.
F-1 OPT Special 17-month STEM Extension
Changes in federal regulations from April 2008 have created an opportunity for extension of OPT for F-1 students in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Information about the STEM extension can be found at F-1 OPT Special 17-month STEM Extension.
**NOTE: The Office of International student services and program will conduct OPT orientation in the middle of each semester and you will be required to attend it in order to process your OPT application. If you are in your final semester of study, you are most likely eligible to apply for OPT so please pay close attention to an email that will be send with the OPT orientation date. We plan to hold 3 OPT session and one for each of the following semesters- fall, spring and summer semesters.