Off Campus Employment
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization that is granted to eligible F-1 students so that they may complete the requirements of a course or the Cooperative (Co-Op) Education Program.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is off-campus employment authorization that allows F-1 students to gain work experience in the major/field of study in which they are currently studying.
You may use OPT during (pre-completion) or after (post-completion) your studies.
The maximum amount of work you are permitted is 12 months of full-time employment for each higher educational level you pursue in the U.S.
If you work part-time (less than 20 hours per week) before graduation (pre-completion OPT), your work time accrues at ½ rate (for instance, if you work part-time for six months, you’ve only used three months of your OPT).
Certain majors in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields also qualify for a 24-month extension of OPT after completing their post-completion OPT. Please refer to the STEM OPT page for more information.
Learn about Pre-and-Post Completion OPT
STEM OPT Extension
F-1 students participating in post-completion OPT who have earned or are currently earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. from a qualified degree program on the government STEM-designated list, may be eligible to apply for the 24-month STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension.
Learn about STEM OPT Extension
Students with pending or approved H-1B petitions are permitted to extend their F-1 OPT/STEM OPT work authorization from the end of the OPT/STEM OPT period through September 30. This period, known as the Cap-Gap, only applies to those whose OPT/STEM OPT period ends prior to September 30 and to those with H-1B petitions filed with a request for a change in immigration status, not consular processing. This regulation enables those on OPT/STEM OPT to continue their employment until their H-1B takes effect on October 1.
Other Off Campus Employment
F-1 students have two options for off-campus employment other than CPT or OPT. These other options require authorization, a new I-20 from ISSS, and also require approval and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. Except in rare circumstances, off-campus employment is not available until a student has completed one academic year (one fall and one spring semester) in full-time study in F-1 status within the U.S. The below information provides more specific information in regard to each type of off-campus employment authorization, severe economic hardship employment and employment with an international organization.