Practical Training for F-1 Students
Practical training is a legal means by which F-1 students can obtain employment in areas related to their academic field of study. It allows international students to undertake paid work in the U.S. while they are still pursuing their studies as well as immediately following their graduation.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may be authorized by the institution (not by USCIS) for F-1 students participating in curricular-related employment such as cooperative education, work study, practicum and internship programs. Authorization is written on the back of the I-20 student copy and will include the name of the company, beginning and ending date, and signature of the designated school official (DSO).
Optional Practical Training (OPT) must be authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) based on a recommendation from the designated school official (DSO) at the school which issued the Form I-20, a government document which verifies the student's admission to that institution. The term "optional" means that students can opt to use all or part of their total practical training allotment of a maximum of 12 months.