Practical Advice on Curricular Practical Training for F-1 Students
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Practical Advice on Curricular Practical Training for F-1 Students Monica Sharp, Assistant Director Danika Hines, International Student Advisor University of Oklahoma International Student Services 729 Elm Avenue, Hester Hall, Room 155 email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 405-325-3337 http://www.ou.edu/intprog/iss/ Before We Begin the Workshop… Are all attendees in F-1 status? Number of OPT v. CPT attendees? We will review both categories first. Please hold your questions until the end of the all general information. If you have a unique and complicated question, wait until the end of the workshop to speak with an advisor. Important Terms DSO: Designated School Official – OU International Student Advisor USCIS: US Citizenship and Immigration Service CPT: curricular practical training OPT: optional practical training EAD: employment authorization document (card) Practical Training: Two Types • An F-1 student may wish to find an internship or short-term employment to gain practical experience in the field of study. • To obtain permission for this type of employment authorization, the USCIS permits an F-1 student to seek authorization for practical training. Type 1: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Internship offered by sponsoring employers through agreements with the university that is required as an integral part of an established curriculum, or will count toward degree requirements. CPT is recommended by the academic advisor and authorized by the DSO. Curricular Practical Training: What is it exactly? • An F-1 student may wish to find an internship to gain practical experience in the field of study. • To obtain this type of employment authorization, the USCIS permits an F-1 student to seek authorization for curricular practical training. Curricular Practical Training Preconditions Location Duration Hours/Week Lawfully enrolled as May be employed Approval granted May be approved full-time student for only by specific each semester. for part-time (20h or one academic year employer, location, Must reapply prior less per week) or (fall + spring and for specific to each semester if full-time (20+ hours semester). dates as approved working multiple per week). Full- by DSO. semesters. time CPT granted for summer semester only. Field Offer of Enrollment Approval Must be an integral Employment Must maintain Must receive part of curriculum Must have minimum enrollment authorization from and count toward internship offer in F-1 status during DSO on I-20 before degree letter before employment (except internship begins. requirements. applying for CPT. summer semester). CPT and other work authorization Students who use 12 full months of full-time CPT become ineligible for OPT under US immigration law Use of part-time CPT does not affect OPT Consider applying for pre-completion OPT if you do not qualify for CPT Important! An F-1 student with CPT cannot hold a concurrent, part-time, on-campus job during the fall and spring semesters. This includes GA appointments. Total number of hours worked per week cannot exceed twenty during the fall and spring semesters! Other considerations The internship must be an integral part of an established curriculum. This means that the internship is: 1. required for all degree candidates, or 2. part of an internship course for academic credit towards the degree – support letter from academic advisor required, or 3. required to complete thesis/dissertation research; results will be included in thesis or dissertation - support letter from academic advisor required, or 4. Located through OU Career Services and will count for credit towards degree requirements - support letter from academic advisor required CPT Application Process and Deadlines Meet with your academic advisor. Does your degree program require an internship of all students, or will it award internship credit toward your degree requirements? If your program does not require an internship, or will not award credit for an internship, plan ahead for pre- completion OPT in your field of study Enroll in the internship course when your enrollment window opens, and before the add/drop period closes of the semester in which you wish to do CPT Gather documents and submit CPT application packet to OU ISS – allow 10 business days for processing OU ISS WILL PROCESS NO CPT APPLICATIONS IN A CURRENT SEMESTER AFTER THE CLOSE OF THE ADD PERIOD FOR THE SEMESTER (the last day of the first week of the semester) IMPORTANT REGULATION! CPT employment authorization is strictly regulated under US federal immigration law. Working at your internship before the CPT start date on your I-20 or continuing internship employment (paid or unpaid) after the CPT authorization end date on your I-20 IS A SERIOUS VISA VIOLATION AND CAN RESULT IN A LOSS OF YOUR F-1 VISA STATUS. Curricular Practical Training application procedure Attend OU ISS CPT/OPT workshop Meet with your Academic Advisor; request that s/he complete the recommendation form, and provide support letter, if applicable Obtain detailed internship offer letter (see template) Submit application to OU ISS Pick up CPT I-20 after you have been notified via email by OU ISS DO NOT START THE INTERNSHIP BEFORE YOU ARE AUTHORIZED FOR CPT! Deadlines and Submitting CPT Applications Last day to apply at OU ISS for Spring 2008 CPT is Friday, January 18 Summer 2008 CPT application window is April 7 – June 6 Submit CPT packets in person to OU ISS, Hester Hall Room 155. Call 325-3337 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions Type 2: Optional Practical Training (OPT) Temporary employment authorization granted by USCIS for practical training that is directly related to the student’s major area of study. OPT can be taken during annual summer vacation, part-time during regular school session, after completion of course requirements or after completion of course of study. Optional Practical Training Preconditions Location Duration Hours/Week Lawfully enrolled as May be employed Maximum 12 Full-time pre- full-time student for by any employer at months of full-time completion OPT one academic year any location for the employment. Part- during summer (fall & spring). duration of OPT time pre-completion breaks. Part-time employment OPT is deducted pre-completion authorization, but from 12-month limit OPT during all employment at 50%. semesters. After must be in field of degree completion, study. all OPT must be full-time. Field Offer of Enrollment Approval Must be directly Employment If pre-completion Must apply to related to major No offer letter OPT, maintain full USCIS before field of study required to apply. courseload during degree completion indicated on I-20. Student must work, employment (post-completion Burden of proof is or actively seek (unless summer). OPT) or before on the student to work. Post-completion= work begins (pre- ensure this! none. completion OPT) OPT can be authorized in the following ways: After completion of the degree program (undergraduates: last day of semester; graduate students: defense date or last day of semester in which defense took place) After completion of all course requirements for the degree, excluding thesis or dissertation (I-20 CANNOT be extended after OPT completion date) Full-time (20+ hours per week) as pre-completion OPT during summer break Part-time while school is in session (20 hours or less per week). Minimum enrollment requirements apply! Important! The USCIS will grant post-completion OPT on a full-time basis only. Post-completion OPT: apply to USCIS before degree completion date. The latest date that post-completion OPT can begin is 60 days after degree completion date. *NEW* OPT application eligibility now begins 120 days prior to degree completion date. Notes on OPT application procedure USCIS sends receipt notice when OPT application is received and in process. Receipt notice has number and website to track application status. You cannot begin OPT employment until you have the EAD and the start date is current. If requesting pre-completion OPT, you must not work until USCIS has approved your application – processing time = 100 days If your degree does not require that you complete an internship, consider pre-completion OPT and plan ahead! Note! Mailing address for EAD OU ISS office address is pre-filled in #3 on Form I-765 - address to where EAD will be sent ISS office will receive your receipt notice and EAD, notifying you to safely retrieve it A designated friend may also retrieve it on your behalf – send an email to email@example.com; we will verify photo ID prior to releasing your card to a designated party OPT application procedures •Submit Academic Advisor recommendation form to advisor •Complete USCIS Form I-765 •Make 2 copies of all immigration documents (passport bio page, visa, I-94, current and all prior I-20s, former EADs) •*NEW* Obtain $340 check or money order processing fee for USCIS application •Obtain 2 passport-size photos •Submit complete OPT application to OU ISS; make OPT processing appointment with OU DSO •Meet with OU DSO to finalize OPT application prior to submission to USCIS Post-completion OPT? Determine your start date! You must apply for post-completion OPT before you graduate – beginning 120 days prior to degree completion Post-completion OPT can only start after you graduate - 60 days following degree completion You will be asked to choose your preferred OPT start date when you submit your application to OU ISS IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR GRADUATE ASSISTANTS If you choose a completion date that is NOT the end of the regular semester, BE ADVISED THAT: All on-campus employment will end on the date you choose as your completion date Your graduate assistant appointment will end on your completion date. You may not continue any employment, paid on unpaid, on the OU campus after your completion date. You will no longer be eligible for your tuition waiver as of your completion date. You may be required to pay back your tuition waiver. GRADUATE STUDENTS AND COMPLETION DATE – cont. If your degree completion date is mid-semester, you are: Not eligible for on-campus employment Not eligible to continue graduate assistant appointments Not eligible for tuition waiver The only way to avoid these complications is to SELECT THE PROGRAM COMPLETION DATE THAT IS THE END OF THE SEMESTER. IMPORTANT REGULATION! OPT employment authorization is strictly regulated under US federal immigration law. Working before the OPT start date on your EAD IS A SERIOUS VISA VIOLATION AND CAN RESULT IN A LOSS OF YOUR F-1 VISA STATUS. OPT Application Deadlines You must submit your application via US mail to USCIS no less than seven days prior to your degree completion date Undergrads: Spring 2008 deadline for processing appointment with OU ISS is May 2 for a May 9 degree completion date Grad students: Spring 2008 deadline for processing appointment with OU ISS is May 2 for a May 9 degree completion date, or seven days prior to defense date. You must choose a date – it cannot be changed! OU ISS cannot process any OPT I-20s for Spring 2008 graduates after May 2, 2008! Frequently Asked Questions 1. Can I get more OPT at a later date? 2. Can my OPT be cancelled? 3. Can I study while on OPT? 4. Can I change employers during OPT? 5. Can I travel out of the US while on OPT? 6. Do I get a grace period after OPT? We will now cover these questions in depth… FAQ 1: Can I get more OPT at a later date? F-1 students may apply for 12 full months of full-time OPT per degree provided that subsequent degrees are each at a higher degree level. FAQ 2: Can I withdraw my OPT application? It is extraordinarily difficult to change the start date of the OPT application once it has been submitted. Cancellation of all or part of a period of OPT once the EAD card has been issued is also difficult. If you wish to withdraw your OPT application, your I-20 must be extended to a new program completion date. It can take over a month to resolve your on-campus employment and status issues. You will also pay the OPT application fee again if you apply in the future. Due to F-1 status issues and cost to student, we recommend you choose a firm degree completion date and OPT start date. FAQ 3: Can I study while on OPT? US federal immigration law states that while you are on full-time, post-completion OPT, you may not begin study toward a new degree program and keep your OPT. The start date of your new I-20 for a new degree program will end your OPT work authorization. You may finish remaining requirements, such as a thesis or dissertation, for a current degree program. If you did not complete a required course in your final semester of your degree program, you may complete a course. Do not take course credit toward a new degree FAQ 4: Can I change employers during OPT? A student may work for more than one employer and/or change employers during the period of authorized OPT, but ALL employment must be directly related to the field of study on the I-20. FAQ 5: Can I travel out of the US while on OPT? OPT = F-1 status. Travel abroad with I-20 signed for travel by OU DSO, EAD card, a valid F-1 visa, employment confirmation letter. You may depart the US before receiving the EAD. However, you must have the EAD, a valid F-1 visa, and proof of your employment to reenter the US. The USCIS has advised that students may reenter the US with the OPT receipt notice if they have not yet received the EAD – not recommended! It is not impossible, but may be more difficult, to renew an F-1 visa while on OPT. FAQ 6: Do I get a grace period after I complete OPT? F-1 students have a 60-day grace period following the completion date of OPT. The time your OPT application was pending does NOT count against the grace period. You may change immigration status during the grace period, obtain an I-20 for a new degree program, or depart the US. You are NOT work-authorized during the grace period. You MUST submit your OPT application packet prior to your processing appointment with a DSO. Go to OU ISS office, Hester Hall Room 155 to submit an OPT application packet and set an OPT processing appointment.