F-1 Practical Training



Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined by the Code of Federal Regulations as “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.” Thus, CPT for F-1 students is intended to provide work experience in the U.S. in situations where the work serves as an integral part of a student’s academic program and an established curriculum, prior to completion of that program.

  • Student Eligibility Requirements
    • Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year before being eligible for CPT
    • Available to students in good academic standing while in valid F-1 status AND before the completion of your program.
    • gap in study or a status violation may warrant the recalculation of the one academic year waiting period
  • Academic Program Criteria
    • USU can authorize CPT if it can be clearly documented that the proposed employment is directly related to the major and meets one of the two conditions below:
      • The training employment is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree.
        • Included in this category is employment in a required internship or practicum
        • This requirement must be formally documented in school publications
      • The training employment will result in the awarding of academic credit
        • Included in this category is employment for a course specifically designed to award academic credit for an employment experience
      • In both of these cases, students must register and complete the Professional Symposium course during the semester that they are working under CPT authorization. For example, if a student will be working in the summer, the student must register and complete the Professional Symposium course in the same summer semester.
    • If CPT is requested for the last semester, the student must be enrolled in at least one other remaining degree-required course, in addition to the Professional Symposium course unless the Professional Symposium course is the degree-required course

Part-Time vs. Full-Time

  • During the school year while classes are in session, students are encouraged to engage in CPT on a part-time basis, limited to no more than 20 hours per week. However, students may engage in full-time CPT 21-40 hours per week with approval.
  • Participation in 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training will result in the loss of Optional Practical Training (OPT) eligibility
  • Students may not engage in CPT during periods of vacation.

How to Apply for CPT?

  1. Complete the CPT Application
  2. Obtain a copy of the official offer letter on company letterhead that is signed by the prospective employer. A photocopy is acceptable. The letter should include the employer’s name, full address, address of location where work will be completed if different from employer’s main location, dates of employment, and job responsibilities or duties.
  3. Submit the CPT Application with offer letter to international@usuniversity.edu (mailto:international@usuniversity.edu) at least two weeks prior to the start of the requested session
    • As part of the review process, the employer will be emailed to verify employment
    • Applications submitted late will not be accepted

Approved CPT

  • An I-20 with CPT authorization will be issued directly to the student
  • Apply for a Social Security Number using the I-20 with CPT authorization and offer letter
  • Students should ensure they have enrolled in the Professional Symposium course
  • Employment cannot start until the start date of the CPT authorization listed on the I-20

CPT Extensions

  • Students applying to extend their current CPT authorizations for one semester
  • Only applicable to students with NO CHANGE in their current CPT authorizations
  • Complete and submit the CPT Extension Application to international@usuniversity.edu at least two weeks before the start of the next semester
  • DO NOT USE this application for NEW or CHANGES IN employment

Denied CPT

  • A CPT application may be denied for various reasons, such as the employment was not directly related to the student’s program of study or proper documentation was not provided
  • Students may reapply for CPT for the same session but must provide updated or missing information before the CPT application deadline


Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined by the Code of Federal Regulations as “temporary employment for optional practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study” approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Student Eligibility Requirements

  • Available to students in good academic standing with the University while in valid F-1 status
  • Students who have completed 12 months or more of full-time CPT in their program are not eligible for OPT

Pre-completion vs Post-completion

  • Pre-completion OPT: employment is authorized for before the end of the program
    • During the school year while classes are in session, students under pre-completion OPT cannot work more than 20 hours per week
  • Post-completion OPT: employment commences after program completion
    • Students under post-completion OPT may work either part-time or full-time
  • Students are limited to 12 months of combined pre-completion and post-completion OPT
  • USU programs do not qualify for STEM OPT

How to Apply for OPT?

  1. Email international@usuniversity.edu to obtain the OPT Request Form and Checklist
  2. Complete the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and prepare the required supporting documentation as listed on the Instructions for Form I-765
  3. Make an appointment with the P/DSO for OPT application packet review
    • An I-20 with OPT recommendation will be issued if the packet is complete and ready to be mailed
  4. Mail the OPT application packet with I-20 within 30 days of the I-20 being issued
    • Failure to mail the packet within 30 days of I-20 issuance will cause the application to be rejected

Approved OPT

  • Contact the P/DSO to notify the school of approval
  • Students will be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) as proof of employment eligibility
  • Apply for a Social Security Number using the I-20 with OPT authorization or EAD card
  • Once employment is secured, employment information must be updated in SEVIS either by the P/DSO or by the student directly through the SEVP Portal
    • Employment cannot start until the start date listed on their EAD card
    • Students with approved OPT cannot accumulate 90 days or more of unemployment

Denied OPT

  • An OPT application can be denied for various reasons as determined by USCIS
  • Contact the P/DSO immediately if a denial notice is received
  • If a student’s OPT is denied after the 60 days grace period, the student does not receive an additional grace period and should be prepared to depart the United States

* USU does not offer work-study or on-campus employment for students