Practical Training

iss studentPractical training is temporary employment authorization that allows F-1 students to gain practical work experience (on- or off-campus) by applying their academic knowledge to a position directly related to their area of study. There are two forms of practical training available to international students with a valid F-1 Visa: Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training.

The regulations which affect all students on OPT, CPT, and Academic Training change very frequently. These include: Reporting requirements, unemployment restrictions, and extension benefits.

It is very important that you stay up-to-date on all of the requirements and guidelines that could affect your immigration status. Please contact the ISS office for information regarding these new regulations.

Optional Practical Training

Optional practical training is temporary employment authorization that allows F-1 students to gain practical work experience (on- or off-campus) by applying their academic knowledge to a position directly related to their area of study.

There are two primary types of OPT:

Post Completion: An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in post-completion OPT upon completion of studies. The post-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s course of study.

Pre Completion: An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT after he/she has been enrolled for one full academic year. The pre-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s course of study. Students authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT must work part-time while school is in session. They may work full time when school is not in session. Please note that any period of pre-completion OPT will count against the time you are allowed for post-completion OPT.

What you need to apply:

  • Form I-765 (Note: It is recommended that this form be typed in order to avoid any mistakes)
  • Your current I-20
  • I-94 copied front and back
  • Copies of any previous work authorization documents (EAD Cards)
  • 2 identical color photographs of yourself taken within 30 days of the filing of your application. The photos must have a white background, be printed on thin paper with a glossy finish, and be unmounted and unretouched. The photos must be 2" X 2" and contain a full face frontal view. Head height should measure 1" to 1 3/8" from top of photo to bottom of chin, and eye height between 1 1/8" to 1 3/8" from bottom of photo. Your head should be bare unless you are wearing a headdress as required by a religious order to which you belong. Lightly print your name and Alien Receipt Number on the back of each photo with a pencil.
  • $380 fee payable by check or money order to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security."

Applications should be submitted PRIOR to graduation to allow time for the EAD card to be processed. Keep in mind that OPT approval takes up to 90 days, so, you should apply as soon as is reasonable in order for you application to be processed in a timely manner by the USCIS.

After you have completed the application and have gathered all of the required documents please come to ISS office in order to complete the application process.

Forms and links:

The purpose of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is to allow students to gain practical experience in their field of study while pursuing their educational objective. CPT is defined by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services as employment which is an “integral part” of a student’s course of study. Employment must be directly related to the major area of study and enhance the student’s academic development. In order to be eligible for CPT, students must be enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year.

Spring or Fall CPT:

Allowed only if internship is required* for the degree currently being pursued and listed on I-20. Students must be enrolled in a full course of study during both fall and spring semesters. Restrictions on the number part-time hours will vary.

Summer CPT:

Student may work full-time (40 hours per week) and while enrolled in the internship class only (1-3 hours). Please note that students who participate in 12 months of full-time CPT will no longer be eligible to participate in OPT.

To apply for CPT:

  1. Submit an offer letter to you advisor that includes the name and mailing address of the company you will work for, the name and phone number of your supervisor at the company, and the dates of your employment.
  2. After your advisor approves your request for CPT (it must meet the condition of being “integral part” a class, project, or thesis), please have him/her write a letter on TU letterhead stating:

    - The name of the student

    - The employment is required for the class, project, or thesis-an integral part of degree program

    - The name of the class the student is enrolled in (according to the TU catalog), understanding that it must be for credit and you will receive a grade

    - The name and address of the company for whom the student will work

    - The name and phone number of the student’s supervisor

    - The dates of employment

  3. The advisor should forward the letter to the dean of the college (for all graduate students it should go to Dr. Richard Redner), who must attach a cover letter of support.

    Please download the CPT application guide to find a detailed list of CPT requirements and instructions for applying, and a sample letter for you to submit to your advisor.

Academic Training for J-1 Students

Academic Training is similar to practical training but is designed for students in the United States on a J-1 Visa. Please download the Academic Training Request Form for more information about academic training or visit the ISS office for more information.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact Carla Guthrie in the ISS office. We are located on the second floor of Westby Hall and can be reached at (918) 631-2329 or by email at inst@utulsa.edu