What are OPT and CPT? - Mount Holyoke College

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WHAT IS CPT?
CPT or Curricular Practical Training is an offcampus employment option for F-1 students.
The internship (training experience) is considered
to be an integral part of the curriculum and
directly related to the student’s major area of
study.
CPT ELIGIBILITY
To be eligible for CPT, you must:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis
for one academic year (9 Months)
Have a declared major
Have a job/internship offer directly related to your
major area of study
Do an independent study related to your
internship the following semester. (295P or
395P)or take the COLL 211 course in the fall
APPLICATION PROCESS FOR CPT
1.
Obtain an offer letter from an employer
2.
Complete CPT Application Form - available on the McCulloch
Center website
3.
Obtain faculty mentor signature and course information on the
CPT Application if doing an independent study. If you are taking
the COLL 211 course, you should have your academic advisor
sign your application .
Make an appointment for CPT with Jenny
4.
5.
Bring completed CPT application form and letter from your
employer to your appointment
YOUR OFFER LETTER FOR CPT
The employer must provide the you a written offer on
official letterhead. The following information must be
included in the letter:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Employer Name
Employer Address – and location where student will
work
Employment Start and End Dates
Number of Hours Expected to Work Per Week (FullTime or Part-Time)
Position Title
Position Description
Name of Immediate Supervisor (if known)
CHANGES TO CPT

CPT is approved for a specific employer, place of employment, and
time period.

You may not change employers or extend training employment
dates without prior consultation with the McCulloch Center and
your faculty mentor/adviser

You must submit a new, completed CPT application form and offer
letter to request any change to your CPT permission before you
switch employers.

You can not change faculty mentors unless the faculty mentor has
left the College or is no longer able or willing to do the independent
study with you (this would need to be in writing from the mentor)
UNPAID INTERNSHIPS AND CPT
•
If your internship is completely unpaid (meaning no salary and no
compensation/reimbursement for travel, meals or housing), you might not
have to apply for CPT but I strongly recommend you do
• Here are the reasons why and they are to protect you
Employer decides at the end of the internship to offer you some
compensation for the internship. You can not accept it
If you did not apply
for CPT
You decide at a later point to apply for permanent residency and the
immigration services questions why you did an
internship without
having
CPT.
Some employers require you to have CPT even if you are not
being compensated. It protects them if you have to file for
workman’s compensation
(if you were to be hurt on the job).
•
•
•
You must file for CPT if you are doing an internship for credit
You should also pay attention to the others doing the same internship as you,
are they being paid for the same work? If yes, you should be getting paid and
for an employer not to do so is a violation of Labor laws.
YOU NEED TO APPLY FOR CPT IF YOU WILL RECEIVE LYNK FUNDING FOR
EMPLOYMENT IN THE U.S.
OPT
(OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING)
What is OPT?
 Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment option
available to F-1 students
for employment directly related
to the major area of study.
 12 month period of OPT per higher degree level.
 17 month STEM Extension OPT maybe possible for some students.
 The 12 month OPT period can be divided into 2 types, PreCompletion and Post-Completion.
 Pre-Completion OPT is before degree completion and typically used for
summer internships if you do not qualify for CPT
 Post-Completion OPT is after degree completion
AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR OPT?
To be eligible for Standard OPT you must:
 HAVE maintained legal F-1 status for one full academic year.
 NOT have used full-time CPT for 12 months or more.
STANDARD OPT HOURS AND LIMITATIONS
Employment must be directly related to your academic major
and be commensurate with your educational level
Standard OPT time per degree level is 12 months
 the 12-month allotment per degree level may be divided into various
segments (Pre-Completion or Post-Completion OPT)
Pre-Completion OPT
Post-Completion OPT
 Used after degree program completion
 start date must fall within 60 days of program completion (this is not the
same date as the graduation ceremony if you are completing in
December)
Unemployment Limit of 90 days starting from OPT
start date
UNEMPLOYMENT RESTRICTION
During Post-Completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent
upon employment.
 Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment
during any Standard Post-Completion OPT.
For Post-Completion OPT, the employment does NOT
have to be paid employment as long as there is no
violation of labor laws, it is related to your major and
at least 20 hours a week.
 interning or volunteering in a position directly related to the academic field
 work for hire (contractual relationship)
 employment through an agency
VERY, VERY IMPORTANT
When you submit your application for OPT to the Immigration
Service after meeting with Jenny and completing the
paperwork, you must mail it so the immigration service receives
it within 30 days.
If they do not receive it within the 30 days, your application will be
denied and you will have to re apply (if you are still within the
time frame of application) and pay the $380 again.
EAD CARD
What does this
mean?????????
OPT AND TRAVEL
Recommended Travel
 Before the expiration of your I-20, with I-20 travel signature
 With EAD, signed I-20 for travel, valid visa, passport, letter from employer.
Not Recommended Travel
 The period after your I-20 has expired and before you receive the approved
EAD.
 If your F-1 visa has expired and you will need to apply for a new one.
 While STEM Extension is pending you should not travel outside the US
CPT
vs
OPT
When to use
Can only be used during your
degree program
Usually saved to use for after graduation
Job Required to apply
Any job while on OPT or
CPT must be related to your
academic major (no
exceptions)
Yes and you must also complete an
independent study related to the
internships or take the COLL 211
course to fulfill requirement
No (but can only be unemployed for 90 days while
on OPT)
Processing Time
1 day
2-4 Months
Application Fee
None
$380
Authorized by
McCulloch Center
USCIS - Immigration
Form of Authorization
I-20 page 3
EAD (Employment Authorization Document) Card
and page 3 of I-20
Hours per week
Part or full time. Generally for
use during the summer and
breaks.
Pre-Completion
Post-Completion: FT only (means 20 hours a week
or more)
Maximum Duration
None but If you use 12 months or
more of full time cpt, you lose your
12 months of opt to use after
graduation
12 Months Full-time per higher degree level
Yes
Only STEM majors (those in science, technology,
engineering and mathematics) extension are eligible.
Must be working for an Everify company
Extension
Possible
STEM EXTENSION OPT ELIGIBILITY
Completed a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree in a STEM field.
S
cience
T
echnology
E
ngineering
M
athematics
Currently engaged in the Standard Post-Completion OPT
Have a job or job offer from an E-Verify Employer
 An employer currently registered and in good standing with the USCIS E-Verify
Program
 There is no public listing of E-Verify Employers
 http://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2014/stem-list.pdf
STEM EXTENSION OPT
HOURS AND LIMITATIONS
 For the 17-month STEM extension, employment must
be traditional paid employment.
 Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not
accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of
unemployment during the total 29-month OPT period.
 The employment authorization period for the 17-month
OPT extension begins on the day after the expiration
of the initial post-completion OPT employment
authorization, and ends 17 months later, regardless of
the date the actual extension is approved.
APPLYING FOR STEM EXTENSION
Application process is same as the Standard PostCompletion OPT with some additions.
 Official transcript or Copy of diploma
 Employer’s name as listed in E-Verify and valid E-Verify
identification number.
 Letter of Employment
Apply within 90 to 120 days prior to the Standard OPT
expiration date.
WHILE ON OPT
While you are on OPT you are still considered an F-1 Mount
Holyoke student.
Therefore you must:
• Notify the McCulloch Center of any address change via the
online form
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/global/international_students/sum
mer_add
• Have your I-20 signed for travel by our office
• Report employment information (name, address,
interruption of employment) and changes to employment to
the McCulloch Center at
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/global/visa_immi/opt_form
STEM Extension students must complete this form every 6
months.

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