Curricular Practical Training & Optional Practical Training

This page outlines guidelines and resources for Practical Training that F-1 students may enroll in. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) are important topics to understand for F-1 students to properly maintain their visa status.

What is Practical Training?

Typically, F-1 international students residing in the U.S. are not permitted to work. However, Practical training is an integral part of curriculum in universities, and so international students can qualify for Curricular Practical Training, which commonly applies to internships conducted while studying. Further, F-1 students can be permitted to work in the U.S. post-graduation with their F-1 student visa by utilizing Post-Completion Optional Practical Training. Pre-completion OPT can also be utilized. Please browse the following topics for information, links, and downloadable forms for CPT and OPT.

Curricular Practical Training

CPT Quick Look

  • Training must relate directly to the student’s major area of study.
  • Training must be an integral part of the school’s established curriculum.
  • Student must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorized.
  • CPT must be authorized before the student can begin work.
  • The Designated School Official (DSO) authorizes CPT in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and the authorization prints on the student’s Form I-20.
  • Must occur before the student’s program end date on the Form I-20.
  • Authorization is for one specific employer and for a specific period of time.
  • Student can have more than one CPT authorization at the same time.

For more information: StudyintheStates Training Opportunities
Also view RWU's F-1 Student Guidebook, Part 6:
F-1 Guidebook


Please complete this form and return to RWU's Designated School Official in the International Student Services office.

CPT Application

Curricular Practical Training can be authorized as part-time or full-time.
  • Part-Time: No more than 20 hours per week
  • Full-Time: Over 20 hours per week

If you intend to enroll in full-time CPT during the normal academic semester (i.e. not during a school break), you MUST be enrolled in a full credit load (12 credits for undergraduate students; per program for graduate students).

Impact of Full-Time CPT on OPT Eligibility
  • If accumulated full-time CPT authorization time exceeds 12 months, students will become ineligible for Optional Practical Training.
  • It is very difficult to engage in 12 months or more of full-time CPT if enrolled in a typical course of study. You generally do not need to be worried about this regulation.
  • The ISSS office is able to track the accumulated full-time CPT. If a CPT authorization form submission indicates that you will exceed 12 months of full-time CPT, you will receive a request to confirm that you understand the effect on OPT upon passing 12 months of full-time CPT.
  • Part-time CPT has no impact on OPT.
Optional Practical Training

OPT Quick Look

  • Authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and the student is issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • Student does not have to secure training before the Designated School Official can recommend OPT.
  • Allows the student to work for any employer, as long as the training relates to the student’s major course of study
  • Can occur before or after the student’s program end date.
  • Periods of OPT cannot overlap.
  • Students are eligible for an additional 12 months of OPT authorization when they change to a higher educational level.
  • Post-completion OPT may begin up to 60 days after the completion of the academic program.

OPT Application Timeline

For more information: StudyintheStates Training Opportunities"
Also view our F-1 Student Guidebook, Part 7:
F-1 Guidebook

OPT Timeline (Post-Completion OPT)

SEVP Help Hub OPT Process Flow

  1. Student: Request OPT
    ► This can be done by meeting with RWU's Designated School Official (DSO) to discuss your plans.
  2. DSO: Recommend OPT
    ► Before you submit your application for work authorization, the DSO must first update your SEVIS record to indicate your intent to participate in OPT. You will receive a notification from the DSO when this has been completed.
  3. Student: File Form I-765
    ► Form I-765 is the Application for Employment Authorization with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). The easiest way to complete this form is online. Visit the USCIS Form I-765 website.
         ► The filing fee: $410
         ► Step-by-step instructions coming soon.
  4. USCIS: Adjudicate I-765
    ► USCIS will receive Form I-765 and approve or deny your application. If approved, your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be mailed to you.
  5. Student: Receive EAD & start work - report to DSO
    You may not begin working until you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). It may take a significant amount of time to receive your EAD. Up to 90 days is not uncommon.
  6. Student and DSO: Report address change & employer information
    ► If any information changes while you are engaged in OPT, you must report that information to the DSO, who can then update your SEVIS record. Relevant information includes any biographical information on your I-20 form and changes to address, employer, etc. If you engage in Post-Completion OPT, you must still maintain your F-1 student status by keeping RWU's DSO updated of any changes.
When to Request OPT and file Form I-765
  • Students may request Post-Completion OPT and file form I-765 up to 90 days prior to the program completion date and no later than 60 days after the program completion date.
    • Example: If graduating on May 15, 2024, you may request OPT and then file Form I-765 between February 15 and July 14 2024.
  • You MUST speak with your DSO before filing form I-765. If you submit form I-765 without having first received confirmation that OPT has been recommended in SEVIS, your application will be denied and the filing fee will not be returned or applied to future applications.
    • You must file form I-765 within 30 days of the DSO recommending OPT in SEVIS.
Eligibility Requirements for Post-Completion OPT
  • Students must be enrolled at RWU for one full academic year (2 semesters) before being eligible for CPT or OPT
  • Study Abroad: Time spent studying abroad may count towards the full academic year requirement, but only if you have been enrolled for at least one academic term before studying abroad.
  • Transfer Students: Time spent at a U.S. university prior to transferring to RWU counts towards the one full academic year requirement.
  • Training must be directly related to the student's major area of study
OPT Time Allowed
  • 1 year (12 months) is the standard time limit for OPT.
  • STEM OPT Extension: Students who are enrolled in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field are eligible for a 2-year (24 month) OPT extension upon completion of the first 12 months.
  • Post-completion OPT may begin up to 60 days after the completion of your program.
24-Month STEM OPT Extension

Students who have completed a program of study within a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) are eligible to extend their Optional Practical Training time by 24 months, for a total time limit of 3 years.

STEM OPT Extension Application Procedure

Information coming soon.

STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

Students engaged in the 24-month STEM OPT extension must report to RWU's DSO every six months. The reporting method varies:

  • Beginning STEM OPT Extension: You and your employer must complete Form I-893: Training Plan for STEM OPT Students (click here for Form I-893 General Information). The final section that asks for a final evaluation should be left blank. This form must be returned to RWU International Student Services.
  • Six-month Validation Reports: Every six months, you are required to report your status to RWU's DSO. Please click here to access a form that must be submitted to RWU's International Services office.
    • Six-month Validation Reports must be submitted within 10 business days of the due date. This due date is included in a notice sent to you by USCIS via email 30 days prior to when the report will be due.
      • Conclusion of STEM OPT Extension: You and your employer must update Form I-893: Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. The final section asking for a final evaluation should be completed. This form must be returned to RWU International Student Services.
  • For more information: Please visit the STEM OPT Reporting page by StudyInTheStates.
Time Spent Unemployed During OPT

During post-completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment. If unemployed, the F-1 student is not maintaining status. Time spent during the OPT authorization time period without employment information listed in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is considered "unemployment time." Students are permitted to be unemployed for a certain period of time without violating F-1 status:

  • Standard post-completion OPT: A total of 90 days.
  • 24-month STEM OPT extension: A total of 150 days. This includes 1 year of standard post-completion OPT and 2 years of the STEM extension.

Every day, SEVIS will automatically calculate how much unemployment time has been used for students with OPT authorization. Weekends and holidays count towards this total 90 or 150 day limit. The Designated School Official will contact you if you are at risk of exceeding the total amount of unemployment time granted to you. If you exceed the permitted unemployment time, you may be subject to automatic F-1 status termination in SEVIS.

More Information
Quick Links: CPT and OPT Forms

Form I-893: Training Plan for STEM OPT Students

STEM OPT Participation Report