CPT & OPT Information

If you are an F-1 student, you have the option of training in the United States by engaging in practical training during your program or after it ends. 

Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school. For the 2020-2021 academic year, we are proud to report a 100% OPT/CPT application approval rate with 100% of those approvals resulting in employment with an average starting salary of $71,034.

There are two types of practical training available for F-1 students:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT)
  • Once you have completed a substantial part of your coursework, you may be eligible for CPT if it relates directly to your program of study. Some programs require advisor approval as well. Check with our Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) to see if you are eligible: PDSO@hood.edu 
  • Your PDSO will provide a new I-20,"Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status" that shows your approval to participate in CPT with an external employer.
  • You can only work part-time on CPT during the semester. 
  • CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from your employer. 
  • If you have 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are ineligible for OPT. However, part-time CPT will not stop you from doing OPT.

NOTE: You must receive employment authorization for any paid or unpaid CPT work from your PDSO before you report to your job/internship.

How to Apply for CPT:

  • Please consult your PDSO on how to apply and when to apply for CPT
  • Letter from employer/institution indicating the following:
    • Job/internship title dates of employment
    • Number of hours work per week
    • Place of employment/internship
    • Brief description of work
  • Letter from your program director or academic advisor indicating that the employment is required in your major or program of study. Letter should include the number of hours of work per week
  • Your employer or internship site may require you to have a social security number. To apply for a social security number, please go to the Student Resources webpage
  • Complete the Hood CPT Form
  • Graduate students must submit the Graduate Permission to Enroll form, which is used for registration. The above paperwork must accompany the completed form. A Hood faculty member must serve as your on-campus supervisor/instructor for the course. This form is not required for COUN 596, COUN 597 and COUN 598 practicum and internship coursework.
  • Proof of enrollment in a course that is connected to required employment (see below)--a screenshot of your schedule and/or an email from the registrar will suffice:

Graduate* CPT Courses:

  • BMS 597 (Biomedical Science)
  • COUN 596 (Counseling practicum)
  • COUN 597 (Counseling internship part A)
  • COUN 598 (Counseling internship part B)
  • ENV 591 (Environmental Biology)
  • ITMG 597 (IT/MIS)
  • CSIT 597 (CS/IT)
  • CYBR 597 (Cybersecurity)
  • MGMT 597 (MBA)
  • HUM 597 (Humanities)

The majority of these courses have variable credit options to accommodate work/class schedules and to allow student participation in multiple CPT experiences during degree progress.

*Undergraduates should consult with their academic advisor on internship courses available in their major, and must complete the internship paperwork through the Career Center.

OPT must relate to your major or course of study. 

  • You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level, (i.e., you may have 12 months of OPT at the bachelor’s level and another 12 months of OPT at the master’s level). 
  • Your PDSO will provide you with a new I-20 that shows your approval for OPT employment. 
  • For work authorization, you must mail a completed application for work authorization "Form I-765 - Application for Employment Authorization," to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and pay a filing fee. USCIS will send you a "Form I-766 - Employment Authorization Document," (EAD) upon approving your Form I-765. 

Wait to start work until after you receive your EAD. 

How to Apply for OPT:

Once you receive a recommendation for post-completion OPT from your Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) to pursue OPT, you must apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) with USCIS within 30 days. Additionally, you may file up to 90 days prior to your program end-date but no later than 60 days after your program end date. More details can be found in the below mentioned links: 

How to Apply for a 24-Month STEM OPT Extension:

All F-1 students, who are currently on a regular period of OPT and are eligible for a STEM OPT extension, must apply for the 24-month STEM OPT extension.

  • You may qualify for an additional 24 months of OPT under the following circumstances:
    • You are currently participating in a regular period of OPT.
    • You received a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) degree at an undergraduate level or higher and seek a training opportunity related to this degree. 
    • You received your qualifying STEM degree from a currently accredited SEVP-certified college or university.
    • The employer from which you are seeking employment uses the E-Verify program.
    • You and your prospective employer have completed and signed the Form I-983,"Training Plan for STEM OPT Students."
    • For more information about the specific eligibility requirements for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, please visit the STEM OPT Hub on Study in the States.
  • Once your PDSO verifies that your Form I-983 is complete and keeps it in your student record, they will provide you with a new Form I-20 that shows their recommendation for this training opportunity.
  • You must apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with USCIS and paying a filing fee. USCIS will send you an EAD upon approving your petition.
  • You may continue to work on your expired EAD for OPT up to 180 days while your 24-month extension petition is pending if you meet the following conditions:
    • You are currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
    • You properly and in a timely manner filed your application for the 24-month extension with USCIS.
  • You must report changes in name, address, employer and loss of employment to your PDSO within 10 days of any change.
  • For more information, visit the STEM OPT page of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

Reporting Requirements:

  • Once your extension has been approved, you will be required to submit regular updates on your progress and work performance in the position.
  • Click here for a great resource and checklist for your STEM OPT Reporting requirements.

STEM OPT Application Checklist: 

Submit your STEM application to USCIS 90 days prior to completing your program. The following documents must be submitted to apply for STEM OPT: 

1Completed and signed I-765 Form .We recommend you review the I-765 filing page for up-to-date information. 

2. Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, endorsed by the PDSO within the last 60 days. Please be sure to sign the original and then make a copy. 

3. A copy of your STEM degree 

4. Official or unofficial transcripts with degree conferral date 

5. Complete the training plan for STEM OPT Students form- Form I-983 

6. Two colored "Passport-style" photos, taken within 30 days of the date application is filed.

7. $410 Fee (personal check or money order), made payable to US Department of Homeland Security OR fill out the G-1450 form for a credit card payment of $410.   

8. Copy of most recent Form I-94. To obtain your Form I-94 record, go to CBP's Form I-94 Web page and agree to the terms listed on the page. 

9. Copies of all I-20s ever issued to you by Hood College or any other schools 

10. Copy of the biological information page from your Passport. If the picture and/or expiration date are on different pages, be sure to include those as well. 

11. Copy of F-1 Visa Stamp Page (or copy of approval notice of change of status to F-1) *Note: Canadian citizens will not have this stamp 

12. Copy of all previously issued EAD(s)- front side only 

13. A current letter confirming employment from your employer. This letter MUST contain the following information: 

  • Job Title 
  • Name & title of your supervisor 
  • Supervisor's contact information (email, phone number)  

Where to Mail Your STEM OPT Application, Petition or Request: 

On January 12, 2021, USCIS updated its website to reflect that all OPT/STEM OPT I-765 applications should now be sent to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. 

For US Postal Service (USPS):
USCIS
PO BOX 805373
Chicago, IL 60680-5374 

 OR

For FedEx, UPS, or DHL:
USCIS
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517