OPT and CPT Information for F-1 Students
Optional Practical Training is defined as “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” You can use it during or after your studies. There are 12 months of OPT given for each higher degree. (i.e. bachelor’s degree to master’s degree; master’s degree to doctorate). To be eligible, you must have been enrolled for classes for at least one academic year (fall and spring semesters).
Most F-1 graduates of Georgetown College take advantage of 12 months of Post-Completion OPT employment after completing their Bachelor’s degrees.
The application for OPT is not difficult, but it requires careful planning. You will need to gather all necessary documentation, make an appointment to meet to update your I-20, and complete an I-765 application for Employment Authorization.
After applying, you should expect to wait approximately three months before receiving approval to work; therefore, it is extremely important to plan ahead and to begin the application process early – May graduates should start the process by February at the latest.
For an introduction to your employment options after OPT please see the How to Hire an International Student handout.
There is a one-time extension for F-1 students currently participating in a 12-month post-completion period of OPT, working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study. At the time of application for the 17-month extension, the student must have a job offer or be employed by an employer registered with the E-Verify federal employment verification system. This benefit is limited to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree holders in the fields specified in the STEM Designated Degree Programs.
Curricular Practical Training is an immigration benefit for F-1 students, intended to allow students to gain off-campus work experience that is an integral part of your degree program; there must be a very clear and strong academic basis for the employment activity in order for the employment to be authorized. In order to be eligible for CPT you must be enrolled in a course for an academic internship.
If you are interested in exploring CPT, please schedule a meeting with the Office of International Programs.