OPT/CPT WORKSHOP - Mount Holyoke College

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.
To be eligible for CPT, you must:
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
Find a faculty mentor to do your independent study with
Do an independent study related to your internship the
following semester. (295P or 395P)or take the COLL 211
course in the fall
Obtain an offer letter from an employer
Complete CPT Application Form - available on the
McCulloch Center website
Obtain faculty mentor signature and course information on
the CPT Application if doing an independent study or have
the Professor teaching COLL 211 sign the form (for the fall
2011 semester, this will be Penny Gill)
Make an appointment for CPT with Jenny
Bring completed CPT application form and letter from your
employer to your appointment
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 (Full-Time or
Position Title
Position Description
Name of Immediate Supervisor (if known)
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
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)
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
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
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
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
Pre-Completion OPT
Post-Completion OPT
◦ the 12-month allotment per degree level may be divided into various
segments (Pre-Completion or 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
Unemployment Limit of 90 days starting from OPT
start date
During Post-Completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon
◦ 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, but must be 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
What does this
Recommended Travel
◦ Before the expiration of your I-20, with I-20 travel
◦ 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
Job Required to
Processing Time
1 day
2-4 Months
Application Fee
Authorized by
McCulloch Center
USCIS - Immigration
Form of
I-20 page 3
EAD (Employment Authorization
Document) Card
Hours per week
Post-Completion: FT only (means 20
hours a week or more)
Maximum Duration
12 Months Full-time per higher degree
Extension Possible
Only STEM extension if eligible
Completed a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree
in a STEM field.
◦Science Technology Engineering Mathematics
Currently engaged in the Standard Post-Completion
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
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.
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 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 http://www.mtholyoke.edu/global/19191.shtml
 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
 STEM Extension students must complete this form every 6

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