Curricular Practical Training


There are two types of practical training: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

  • Eligibility for Curricular Practical Training
  • Student must have been in lawful status as a full-time student for one full academic year unless a graduate program requires an immediate CPT experience.
  • The training must be directly related to the student’s field of study and commensurate with the student’s educational level.
  • The training must be a requirement of the program of study and receive course credit.
  • The training is unlimited part-time, unless an extended period is required for the program of study. The training may be full-time or part-time. If full-time (more than 20 hours per week) for 12 months or more the student is not eligible for optional practical training.

Update: In a May 7, 2003 liaison call with NAFSA, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed the long-standing INS position that only full-time CPT, not part-time CPT is counted towards the restriction on availability of OPT.

Eligibility for Optional Practical Training
  • Student must have been in lawful F-1 status as a full-time student for one full academic year. However, a student may submit the OPT application up to 90 days prior to being enrolled for one full academic year provided that the employment will not begin until the completion of the full academic year.
  • Time spent in a study abroad program may not exceed 5 month (outside the U.S.)
  • Student must apply prior to completion of study.
  • The training must be directly related to the student’s field of study and commensurate with the student’s educational level.
  • The training may occur during or after the program of study.
  • The training may be part-time during the student’s studies or full-time during vacations and holidays. Opt after course completion must be full-time.
  • No job offer is required
  • The training is limited to a maximum of 12 months within the 14-month period following the completion of study after each level of education.

When a student is on authorized OPT after completion of studies and begins another educational program or fails to comply with the F-1 regulations (e.g. fails to report a change of address) OPT is terminated. The DSO is required to report change of address while the student is on OPT. The student must be informed about how to report any change of address to the DSO. The DSO needs to register in OPT student by entering the end date of the OPT and the current address on the registration screen.

The amount of time required to process an EAD varies by service center. DSOs can expect occasional inconsistencies with the authorization dates on the EAD vis-à-vis. The recommended dates of employment. A student whose EAD has a start date of more than 60 days beyond the completion of his/her studies due to processing delays at the BCIS Service Center will not receive the full 12 months for which he/she would otherwise be eligible because the regulations do not allow authorization beyond the 14-month period following the completion of study. However, the regulations do allow a student to apply for a 240-day interim employment authorization at the BCIS District Office if the OPT application has not been adjudicated within 90 days of receipt at the BCIS Service Center.

A student departing the U.S. before he/she receives the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) may have difficulties re-entering the U.S. subsequent to the completion of his/her studies. The regulations indicate that a student in these circumstances may re-enter the U.S. to resume employment and he/she must use the EAD in combination with the I-20. BCIS has not formalized guidance on the issue of departing with a pending application and re-entering after the date of completion of studies. DSOs should advise students of the possible implications of travel while an OPT application is pending.