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Employment Options For Students, Part 2 of 4

by Gregory Siskind

Last week we discussed on campus work options for F-1 students. This week we begin our discussion of options for students to work off campus. One of the ways students can be granted authorization to work off campus to be granted practical training. Practical training is available to student seeking to work in their fields off campus who have been enrolled for at last an academic year (nine months).

There are two types of practical training - curricular practical training and optional practical training. Curricular practical training (CPT) includes programs that are an "integral part of an established curriculum." CPT programs include alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is not tied to the curriculum and can be used for up to a year full time (two years part time) on campus or off campus.

CPT programs should be listed in a college's course catalog with the number of credits included and the name of a responsibility faculty member. Also, the course objectives should be listed.

Students may take an unlimited amount of practical training. However, if they take more than a year of CPT, they are barred from seeking OPT. Anything 364 days or less will not result in the loss of OPT. Note that part time work using CPT for more than a year has recently been deemed to result in the loss of eligibility for OPT.

Applying for CPT is relatively straightforward for F-1 students. A student will apply for CPT with the school's Designated Student Officer. Assuming the DSO approves the request, the DSO will enter the information in SEVIS and print out an I-20 with the CPT authorization for the student.

Finally, the DSO is to sign and date the I-20 prior to returning it to the student. No employment authorization document is needed for curricular practical training. The student may not begin work using CPT until getting the endorsed I-20.

Next week - Optional Practical Training

About The Author

Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind, Susser, Haas & Devine's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.