USCIS Guide to Practical Training
If you are an F-1 student, you have the option of working in the United States by engaging in practical training during your program or after it ends. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school. There are two types of practical training available for F-1 students: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). While ISS will assist you in preparation of documentation, it is your responsibility to file for practical training in a timely manner. ISS will not be responsible for applications filed incorrectly or late.
CPT approval is granted directly by the International Student Advisor/DSO. UAA students seeking CPT must first coordinate employment with their academic advisor and UAA Career Services Center (CSC). To apply, present your signed learning agreement and CSC approval letter to ISS. CPT must be for course credit (minimum of 3 credits) and meet the following conditions:
- CPT must relate to your major and the experience must be part of your program of study.
- When you enroll at the graduate level, your designated school official (DSO) may authorize CPT during your first semester if your program requires this type of experience. Ask your DSO for details.
- Your DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows that the DSO has approved you for this employment.
- You can work on CPT either full-time or part-time. Ask your DSO for details.
- CPT requires a signed cooperative learning agreements or a letter from your employer.
- If you have 12 moths or more of full-time CPT, you are ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop you from doing OPT.
OPT approval is granted by USCIS and requires applications to be filed within a 90-day windows of the preferred start date. OPT applications must meet the following conditions:
- OPT must relate to your major or course of study.
- You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level.
- Your DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows the DSO recommendation for this employment. This step must be completed before electronically filing the Form I-765.
- You must apply for work authorization by electronically filing a Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," with USCIS and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you a Form I-766, "Employment Authorization Document," (EAD) upon approval of your Form I-765.
- Wait to start work until after you receive your EAD.
- While school is in session, you may only work 20 hours per week. No exceptions.
After you have gathered all necessary documents please submit your application packet and
to ISS for review. ISS will then issue a new Form I-20 to accompany your application materials. To apply, please visit the USCIS and send the entire packet to the USCIS processing center for our region. It is your responsibility to ensure that these materials are sent to USCIS in a timely and verifiable manner.
17-Month OPT STEM Extension
- You may qualify for an additional 17 months of OPT under the following circumstances:
- The degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) program recognized by USCIS. A list of recognized programs may be found .
- The employer from which you are seeking employment uses the E-Verify program. .
- You have not previously received a 17-month extension of OPT.
- Your DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows the DSO recommendation for this employment.
- You must apply for work authorization by electronically filing a Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," with USCIS and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you a Form I-766, "Employment Authorization Document,"(EAD) upon approval of your Form I-765.
- You may continue to work on your expired EAD for OPT up to 180 days while your 17-month extension petition is pending if you meet these conditions:
- You are currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
- You properly and in a timely manner filed your application for the 17-month extension with USCIS.
- You must report changes in name, address, employer and loss of employment to your DSO within 10 days of any change.
To apply, please visit the . After you have gathered all necessary documents and completed the online Form I-765 (for e-filing), submit your application packet with e-filing receipt and
to ISS for review. ISS will then issue a new Form I-20 to accompany your application materials and return the entire packet to you for shipment to the USCIS processing center for our region. It is your responsibility to ensure that these materials are sent to USCIS in a timely and verifiable manner.
Source: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Authorities: 8 CFR 214.2 (f) (10)-(12) and 8 CFR 274a.12 (b) (6) (iv)
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