CPT

The purpose of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is for international students to engage in temporary employment for the purpose of gaining practical experience directly related to their field of study. The desire for employment is not the main consideration in determining CPT eligibility. The school’s curriculum and the importance of the work to the student’s academic program are the determining factors.

USCIS Regulations state that an F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is “an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” “To grant authorization for a student to engage in curricular practical training, a DSO at a SEVIS school will update the student’s record in SEVIS as being authorized for curricular practical training that is directly related to the student’s major area of study.” -USCIS Citation: 8 CFR 214.2 (f) (10) (i)(B)

In other words, the work must be an integral part of the curriculum. To qualify, the CPT must fall into one of the following categories:

  • The CPT is required for all degree candidates as reflected in the course catalog; or
  • The CPT is part of an internship course for academic credit towards the degree as reflected in the student’s degree plan; or
  • The CPT can be required to complete thesis/dissertation research, as reflected in the student’s degree plan; or
  • The CPT is approved by the student’s Department Head as being directly related to his or her major and future career goals.

F-1 students must also continue to pursue a full course of study while on CPT unless the CPT is during the student’s annual summer vacation and summer is NOT the student’s final semester at Tarleton. During the summer months, students are not required to enroll full time, so they may complete CPT without being enrolled full time. However, the student must be enrolled in the course for which the CPT has been granted (for credit-bearing internships only).

A student can work as much as is required by their academic program as long as labor laws and other relevant laws are followed. However, if a student engages in 12 months or more of full time CPT, they are not eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Periods of part-time CPT do not count towards the 12-month limit of full-time CPT.

Students may only be employed by a specific employer, at a specific location and for specific dates as approved by the Undergraduate Admissions – Immigration Office, and a student can begin working with their CPT employer once they have received the I-20 reflecting the CPT work authorization and the start date has begun. Students should submit their application materials well in advance of their desired start date. The International Programs – Immigration Office recommends that documents be submitted at least 30 days in advance.

Approval is based on the following:

  • The student is in good academic standing with Tarleton State University.
  • The student is currently in valid F-1 status at an SEVP-approved “college, university, conservatory, or seminary.” Tarleton State University does not consider “pending reinstatement” as valid F-1 status.
  • The student has been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year (fall and spring) at a SEVP-approved school. An exception may be made for graduate students who are required to participate in CPT during their first year of study. (This means all participants in that graduate academic program must do an internship within the initial year of study.)
  • The student will continue to be enrolled for a full course of study during the CPT.
  • The training is determined to be “an integral part of an established curriculum” and “directly related to the student’s major area of study.”
CPT authorization is NOT required for Nursing and MLS students to participate in departmentally required clinicals.

On-Campus Employment

F-1 students are generally permitted to work part time at any of Tarleton’s campuses while they are attending Tarleton and maintaining their F-1 status, and their I-20/SEVIS record are valid.

General Requirements

  • Students must be enrolled full time while employed.
  • Students may only work part-time, and the work must be performed on one of Tarleton State University campuses. Some work may be allowed off campus if the off-campus location is educationally affiliated with the school. Students may only work a maximum of 20 hours each week during fall and spring semesters. This includes both graduate assistantships and student worker positions.
  • Students may work on campus full time (i.e., more than 20 hours per week) when school is not in session during the school year (e.g., Christmas or spring break).
  • Students are not required to have a job in order to be given work authorization. However, once a job is found, the student will have to immediately apply for a social security number, which requires a letter from the employer and a letter from the International Programs – Immigration Office. See the Social Security section on the International Programs – Immigration Office’s website for more information.
  • Graduate students receiving a stipend must also submit written approval from their Graduate Program Director to the International Programs – Immigration Office. Graduate students should send approval to the Graduate Office to work an additional job.
  • Students who are pending reinstatement are not eligible to work on campus.
  • Students should allow 5 business days to process paperwork.

OPT

Optional practical training (OPT) is defined in the regulations as “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” Students in F-1 status are eligible to apply for this benefit as long as they have been lawfully enrolled full-time for one academic year. An academic year would include fall and spring terms only. Like Curricular Practical Training (CPT), the training MUST be directly related to the area of study and not just serve as an opportunity to work. Students may engage in OPT for any employer in any location for the duration of OPT authorization, as long as the employment qualifies under OPT standards.

Timing

  • Post-completion OPT is authorized to be worked after the student’s program end date.
  • Graduate students who have completed all coursework and have only their thesis or dissertation to complete would qualify for post-completion OPT. (Note: If a thesis/dissertation student who selected the post-completion OPT option does not finish his or her degree by the end of the post-completion OPT, he or she will not be eligible for a program extension.)
  • In special circumstances where a student has an opportunity to pursue post-completion OPT but needs to begin earlier than the end of his or her program, the DSO may shorten the student’s program in SEVIS. The student must have a compelling reason to shorten the program such as unexpectedly completing all courses early and having a job opportunity already available.
  • A student cannot begin OPT employment until the start date indicated on the EAD issued by USCIS. The effective date of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by USCIS for standard post-completion OPT will be either the start date requested by the DSO when the recommendation was done in SEVIS, or the date USCIS approves the application for work authorization, whichever occurs later. For standard post-completion OPT, “a student may not request a start date that is more than 60 days after the student’s program end date.”
  • Travel outside the U.S. during the OPT application process is at the student’s own risk. In some cases, students have been denied re-entry to the United States even with proper documentation.

Duration

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training has a limit of 12 months per educational level. Those with STEM degree designations may qualify for a 24-month extension (see STEM Extension Policy and Procedure for more information). Note that previous use of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training.

Employment

 A job offer is not required in order to apply for Post-Completion OPT. However, a student is limited to an aggregate of 90 days of unemployment during post-completion OPT and any time of unemployment counts as part of the 12-month limit. Once the student has gained employment, it is his or her responsibility to submit this information to Tarleton State University Undergraduate Admissions-Immigration.

Applying

Before a student can apply for post-completion OPT, he or she MUST pass the OPT Canvas course with a grade of 85% or higher. An OPT application will not be processed until the course is passed. The student is responsible for the OPT application process, which includes completing and submitting the OPT Request and Compliance Forms to the International Programs – Immigration Office. The student must also submit Form I-765 to USCIS between 90 days before the program end date and 60 days after the program end-date, provided that it is filed within 30 days after the date the DSO enters the OPT recommendation into SEVIS. Be sure to count up your days based on your program end date from YOUR I-20, so you do not submit too soon or too late. Be aware that submitting your application within the 60-day grace period following your Program End Date could mean you are not be approved for all 12 months of OPT. In addition, you may be accumulating days of unemployment during that time which will count against the 90 days of allowed unemployment during post-completion OPT.

STEM OPT

F-1 students approved for standard post-completion optional practical training based on a degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field that appears on the STEM-Designated Degree Program List can apply to USCIS for a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT. A student who has applied for a STEM extension can continue working for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of the prior post-completion OPT EAD while the STEM extension application is pending. A student may change employers during the 24-month period, but all employers that a student will work for during the STEM extension period must be registered in the DHS E-Verify program, and the student must report the change in employment to his or her DSO.

Types of Eligible Employment

A student authorized for a 24-month extension must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a position directly related to his or her DHS-approved STEM CIP.

For a student who is on a 24-month extension, this employment may include:

  • Multiple employers. A student may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to his or her degree program and all employers must be enrolled in E-Verify.
  • Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. The company for whom the student is providing services must be registered with E-Verify. If requested by DHS, the student must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract period and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employment is not allowed.
  • Employment through an agency or consulting firm. Students on a STEM extension may be employed by an employment agency or consulting firm. The employment agency or consulting firm must be registered with E-Verify, but the third parties contracting with the agency or firm (for which the student is providing services) need not be.

Reporting

In addition to reporting any change of address, STEM OPT recipients must also make a “validation report” to the DSO every 6 months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1 status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, the student transfers to another school, or the 24-month OPT extension ends, whichever is first. This report must be made by the student, and SEVIS updated by the DSO, even if the student’s employment has not changed.

The validation report must include the student’s:

  • Full legal name
  • SEVIS identification number (if requested by the school)
  • Current mailing and residential address
  • Name and address of the current employer
  • Date the student began working for the current employer
  • Tarleton State University ID Number

Travel outside the U.S. during the STEM extension application process is at the student’s own risk. In some cases, students have been denied re-entry to the United States even with proper documentation. If a student on a STEM OPT Extension wants to travel outside of the U.S., he or she should speak with a Tarleton State University DSO before making plans.

Eligibility Requirements

  • The student has a degree in an eligible STEM field from a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school that is accredited when the student submits their STEM OPT extension application to USCIS.
  • The degree that was the basis for the student’s current period of OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in one of the degree programs on the current STEM Designated Degree Program List. A minor field of study cannot serve as the basis for a STEM OPT extension. If a student has a double major and obtained regular post-completion OPT on the non-STEM CIP or a STEM CIP that is not approved by DHS, the student is ineligible for the 24-month extension.
  • The student and his or her employer must complete and submit the Form I-983 which indicates how the student’s training will be conducted and evaluated. The formal training plan must clearly articulate the STEM OPT student’s learning objectives and affirm the employer’s commitment to helping the student achieve those objectives.
  • The student’s employer must be registered in E-Verify and must agree to report to the DSO when the student is terminated or leaves employment.
  • The student must apply for the STEM OPT extension before their standard period of post-completion OPT expires and must also agree to make periodic reports to the DSO.

Contact Immigration

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 254-968-9632