Off Campus Employment for F-1 Students

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization granted to students in F-1 status. CPT is designed to enable students to apply and practice the knowledge and skills gained in their academic program. CPT must be an "integral part of an established curriculum." CPT is granted by the International Student & Scholar Advisor (ISSA) in accordance with U.S. immigration law. Authorization of CPT involves both an immigration component and an academic component.

Immigration Eligibility:

  • You must currently be maintaining valid F-1 status and must have been enrolled full-time for at least two semesters immediately before applying for CPT.
  • CPT authorization is employer and date specific. CPT is authorized from a specific beginning date to a specific ending date and for one specified employer. This means that if your internship changes in any way (different dates, different employer, etc.) you must first obtain authorization from the ISSA. Failure to do so may be a violation of your status.
  • There is no limit on the amount of time you can be authorized for CPT. However, if you use 12 months or more of full-time CPT you will lose you eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Employment must be related to your major field of study and must be an integral part of your studies.


Steps to Apply for CPT:

1. Obtain an offer letter of employment from your perspective employer.

​    The letter must be written on official letterhead and include all of the following information:

  • Company Name
  • Company Address (must be complete, including zip code)
  • Job Title
  • Brief description of the duties
  • Full time or part time
  • Exact beginning and ending dates of employment

2Register for credit for your summer internship through Career Education HEREThe registration deadline is June 8.  For additional information about the process to request summer internship credit contact the Career Education Internships Program at

3. Obtain your internship approval letter from Career Education

4. Email the following to your International Student and Scholar Advisor

  • Career Education Internship Approval Letter
  • Job Offer Letter
  • Copy of your most recent Form I-94

5.  CPT will be authorized by your ISSO within one week from receipt of the documents on a new Form I-20.  You will receive an Email to come to the Slater International Center to pick up your new Form I-20.



Once you have been authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), it is important that you understand this benefit, and the rules that govern it. Remember that CPT is employer and date specific. Please read all the CPT information carefully and speak with an International Student and Scholar Advisor (ISSA) if you have questions.

1. Your new Form I-20 indicates your employment authorization for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) on page 2.  Please sign and date page 1 of the Form I-20.

2. Be sure to keep any previous Form I-20's that you have. Use this new Form I-20 for future travel and re-entry to the U.S. but remember to bring all previous copies of your Form I-20's with you.

3. You may only work for the employer specified on your Form I-20 and for the time period specified.

4. A "Work Authorization Letter" will be provided to you for further clarification of the employment authorization. This letter states that you are authorized for employment with the specified employer, and for the dates indicated.

5. If your internship changes in any way (different dates, different employer, etc.) you must first obtain authorization from the International Student and Scholar Advisor (ISSA). Failure to do so may be a violation of your F-1  Student status and must be reported by Wellesley College to United States Citizen and Immigration Services.

6. Social Security Numbers are unique identification numbers assigned by the U.S. Federal Government. They are required for those who are employed in the United States. If you do not already have a social security number, you must obtain one after receiving your CPT authorization and prior to your employment start date. For more information, please review the "Applying for a Social Security Number" handout (available at

7. If you change your address, you must report your new address to the Slater International Center within 10 days of moving. We will then report your new address automatically to the U.S. government, as required by law.


Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit of F-1 non-immigrant status that allows students to work off-campus in a field related to their area of study. Applying for OPT is a two-step process which begins first with a recommendation for OPT from the International Student Advisor (ISSA) and second, with approval of the application by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In order to maintain F-1 status while on OPT, students must report employer name and address to USCIS and not be unemployed for a total of more than 90 days.

If you are applying for OPT, it is important for you to understand the application procedure and the rules that govern this type of employment authorization. Please read all OPT handouts carefully and speak with an ISSA if you have any questions. 


To be eligible for OPT you must be in valid F-1 status and have maintained valid F-1 status for at least one academic year before applying.

OPT Limits

There is a limit of 12 months of full-time OPT. OPT may be used before completion of studies, after completion of studies, or a combination of both time periods. OPT may be full-time or part-time, but any pre-completion OPT is limited to part-time during the school year. Any periods of OPT, whether part-time or full-time, will be deducted from the total twelve-month period available.

  • Part-time OPT (20 hours per week or less) is deducted at half of the full-time rate (two months of part-time OPT = one month of full-time OPT) before completion of studies. After completion of studies, part-time OPT is counted at the full-time rate.
  • Full-time OPT is training that is more than 20 hours per week. Full-time OPT can only be granted during official college breaks or after the completion of degree requirements.

On your application you must indicate part-time or full-time employment and you must indicate the EXACT DATES of your employment authorization, including a day, month, and year for both start and end dates. The latest possible start date for authorization after the end of your final academic term is 60 days after your completion of studies 

When to Apply

OPT applications may be filed up to 90 days before the completion of all degree requirements, and up to 60 days after the completion of all degree requirements. It takes approximately one week for Slater to process an OPT recommendation. Your application must be submitted to USCIS within 30 days of when OPT is recommended by the ISSA. USCIS processing time for this type of application is from 30 to 90 days. Please apply early to avoid delays in starting your employment.

How to Apply

Contact Slater International Center to sign up for an OPT workshop or to make an appointment to speak with the ISSA

On the day of your appointment or workshop, bring with you:

□ All instructional handouts emailed to you beforehand

□ OPT Acknowledgement Form

□ Class Dean's Recommendation

□ Form I-765-completed and signed

  • The Form I-765 can be completed online, saved, and printed. This is helpful to eliminate the difficulty of reading handwriting and leads to more accuracy. Please go to, click on "Immigration Forms," and scroll down to Form I-765. Complete the Form, save it for your records, and print out a copy to sign in blue ink. If you with to complete the form by hand, please write in blue ink.
  • Under section 16, write either (c) (3) (B) for post-completion OPT, or (c) (3) (A) for pre-completion OPT.
  • Carefully consider the address you use to complete this form. You should use an address where you will be in 2-4 months, when your EAC will be mailed. 

□ Copy of all Form I-20s (pages 1 & 3); include forms from previous U.S. schools (if applicable)

□ Copy of your F-1 visa (unless you are Canadian, or have had a change of status approval)

□ Copy of your Automated Form I-94

□ Copy of your passport photo page

□ Copy of your passport expiration date page (if different from your passport photo page)

□ 2 photographs (see Photo Specification Handout). Lightly write your name and SEVIS ID# on the back

□ Personal check or money order made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $380. Write your SEVIS ID # on the front of your check in the memo section. Do not write on the back of the check.

□ Copy of any previously issued EACs (if applicable)

If the ISSA determines that you are eligible for OPT, you will be issued a new Form I-20 with the appropriate recommendation. Your recommendation information will be entered in Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and you will be contacted by the ISA via email to pick up your OPT application materials.


You are responsible for mailing your application materials to USCIS in a timely manner. We strongly suggest that you MAKE COPIES OF ALL YOUR DOCUMENTS before mailing, and that you send your application by Priority Mail (USPS) with delivery confirmation. Send your application packet to:

By U.S. Postal Service


PO Box 660867

Dallas, TX 75266

By Express Mail or Courier Service

(FedEx, UPS, etc.): USCIS

Attn: AOS

2501 S. State Hwy. 121

Business Suite 400

Lewisville, TX 75067

Maintaining F-1 Status While on OPT

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an extension of F-1 status. While you are on OPT, you are still in F-1 status and must follow the regulations in order to maintain your F-1 status.

  1. Maintain employment during OPT—you must be actively seeking employment or be employed. If you are unemployed for a total of more than 90 days during the 12-month OPT period, you will no longer be maintaining your F-1 status.
  2. Report any change of name or address to Slater International Center by email within 10 days of the change.
  3. Report the name and address of your employer and any changes to your employment (including termination of employment) to Slater International Center by email as soon as the change occurs.


Travel/Renewing your Visa while on OPT

You must have a valid travel signature on your Form I-20 to travel and re-enter the United States in F-1 status. (Less than 6 months old).

Pre-Completion OPT

If you have not completed your degree requirements and you have pre-completion OPT, you may travel and re-enter the United States with a valid passport, Form I-20 (with a valid travel signature), a valid F-1 visa and financial documentation.

Post-Completion OPT

If you apply for post-completion OPT you must consider your future travel plans to determine what you will need to do.

Before your degree completion you may travel while your post-completion OPT application is pending.

Once you have completed your degree your OPT application must be approved and you must have a job or proof of a job offer in order to re-enter the U.S.

You should be prepared to present the following documents when re-entering the U.S. while on OPT:

  1. Valid F-1 visa - If your F-1 visa has expired and you must travel outside of the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate outside of the U.S. Please note that you may remain in the U.S. with an expired visa as long as your EAC and passport are valid.
  2. Valid passport (passport must be valid at least six months into the future)
  3. Valid EAC - The EAC is marked "Not valid for re-entry." This simply means that the card alone is not sufficient for re-entering the U.S. for those who have completed their degree requirements and have post-completion OPT.
  4. Form I-20 with OPT recommendation (Note: the travel signature on page 3 should be less than six months old)
  5. Proof of employment – A letter from your current or prospective employer which indicates that you have a temporary job offer and that you will be employed for the duration of your OPT.

NOTE: If you should re-enter the United States in visa waiver or tourist status, you will no longer be eligible for OPT.