International Student Employment Options CPT, OPT & more.
UIW International Student and Scholar Services is here to help students navigate the US immigration rules and regulations. Our staff: Jose F. Martinez - Director Sheena Connell - Assistant Director Student Assistants: Anthony Martinez Maria Castro Office: ICC 200 Phone: 210.805.5705 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org International Student and Scholar Services
DHS: Department of Homeland Security - oversees various federal agencies that play a role in implementing student visa and exchange visitor programs, including the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). DOS: Department of State - oversees various federal bureaus that play a role in implementing student visa and exchange visitor programs, including Bureau of Consular Affairs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) SEVIS: Student & Exchange Visitor Information Systems (implemented since 2003) – Federal database, holds all F-1, M-1 and J-1 non-immigrant records. USCIS: U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services (Previously INS until March 1, 2003 reorganization) – Benefit granting agency of the Department of Homeland Security DSO: Designated School Official – Trained and Authorized by Dept. of Homeland Security to input, access and manage F-1 SEVIS records.
SEVISNon-SEVIS Demographic, Enrollment, Employment Tracking & Reporting Demographic Tracking & Reporting F-1: Degree - Seeking Self Funded (Personal, Family Funds, or non-gov’t based scholarships) Strict employment & study restrictions Employment or Family Based Visa (H-1B, E-1, TN, A-1, K-1, etc.) Study part time or full time Visa status based on employment or family petition J-1 student: Short-Term Exchange Or degree-seeking with significant third-party funding Strict employment & study restrictions Dependent/Derivative Visa (H-4, E-1, TD, A-1, L-2 etc.) Children or Spouses of primary visa holders Few study restrictions, employment restrictions vary Children “age out” at 21 yrs., must apply for own status. J-2: Dependent of J-1 (UIW or non-UIW sponsored) May Study without restrictions Work Authorization required. Parolee, Adjustment of Status applicants Transitional status, applicant for Permanent Residency but not yet approved or eligible for full benefits. Asylee, Refugee or Permanent Resident – Complete UIW Domestic Application Temporary status, Full work/ study benefits, May be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship.
Student’s legal responsibility to maintain lawful immigration status (e.g., completing coursework, not working without authorization) University responsibility to advise & support students Immigration status MUST be Terminated for certain reasons required by law Loss of immigration status has serious repercussions - Reported to ICE, may result in deportation and denial of any future US visas.
All F-1 students are here on “student” non-immigrant visas and have U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) restrictions on employment. Primary purpose in the U.S. is to STUDY not WORK. Eligible to work on-campus automatically (within hour restriction) No more than 20 hrs. for Fall & Spring No more than 30 hours Summer & annual vacation Working more than allowable hours a week on-campus has SEVERE immigration consequences, such as deportation and denial of any future US visas. Note: J-1 Exchange Students are NOT eligible to work AT ALL inside the U.S. (even on campus)
To work off-campus you must be pre-authorized by International Student & Scholar Services and DHS. Internships (even unpaid) are considered “work”. May also require work authorization for volunteer work. Inquire with ISSS There are two main types of F-1 Work Authorization: CPT (Curricular Practical Training) OPT (Optional Practical Training)
Key word is CURRICULAR U.S. immigration regulations allow international students who are academically required as part of an established curriculum to participate in an internship (paid or unpaid) or temporary employment to gain practical experience in their field of study. CPT is only issued for the following 3 academic circumstances, with support of the Academic Advisor. Required: An internship (paid or unpaid) that is a required course for every student to complete a degree program. Degree Credit: An internship (paid or unpaid) that is an elective course which will count toward degree credit and not delay graduation. Research: (Rarely used – for Ph.D. only) Completion of dissertation or thesis research, when CPT is required to complete the thesis or dissertation and results will be published in the final version. CPT has many restrictions and must be approved by the Academic Advisor, International Advisor and DHS before starting employment.
Immigration Restrictions for CPT: F-1 for 1 Year: Students required to complete 2 long semesters at UIW before eligible to apply and be in valid F-1 Status. Registration: Required to register for corresponding course and submit a complete application by the first day of the course to ISSS. FULL TIME Enrollment: Must enroll in and complete minimum number of credit hours during the Fall and Spring semester (12 hrs - undergrads, 9 hrs –grads, 6 hrs - doctoral students). 20 Hours Limit: All CPT authorized during the Fall and Spring semester, cannot exceed a total of 20 hours a week. Summer only: Full-time CPT (20+ hours a week) is allowed only during the Summer semester. Using more than 11 months of full time CPT will leave students ineligible to apply for OPT after graduation. On-Campus employment: CPT is not allowed in conjunction with on campus employment if the total number of hours worked in both the internship and on-campus employment exceeds 20 hours per week in the Fall and Spring semester. (40 hours a week for Summer semester) On Time: I-20 extensions cannot be granted for degree completion delays caused by CPT internships. The purpose of the F-1 visa is not to facilitate off- campus employment, but to pursue a degree full-time and make academic progress.
1. Meet with Academic/Faculty Advisor semester before planned internship. 2. Inquire with ISSS when registering for classes to receive briefing & application. 3. Register for class and submit the application: Academic Adviser CPT Recommendation Form Internship Offer Letter from U.S. employer. (Template available from ISSS). The offer letter must include: Exact start date and end date of the internship. Exact location and address of the internship. Internship title and description of activity. If the internship is full time or part-time, expressed in the number of hours per week (“20 hours or less per week,” “20 hours or more per week”). x Registration Deadline: Application must be submitted to ISSS no later than the last day of registration. Student should be enrolled in corresponding course to apply. x Within the Semester: Requested start and end dates must be WITHIN the course start and end dates. CPT internships will not be authorized with a start date prior to the first day of the course or after the last day of the course. x Reapply: Only valid for one semester at a time and one course at a time.
A student may not begin an internship prior to CPT authorization from the ISSS office. Participating in an internship before the authorization start date is considered a violation of the student’s status and will result in the Termination of the student’s immigration status for Unauthorized Employment, requiring the student’s immediate departure from the US.
Can be used for paid or unpaid internships but ONLY if it is required for a course & credit will count toward degree program. Students are encouraged to talk to academic/faculty advisors early on in their program if they may be eligible for internships. Recommended to apply for CPT with the International Office semester BEFORE starting the course (when registering for courses). Working at an internship (paid or unpaid) without authorization or exceeding the hours or dates authorized has SEVERE immigration consequences, such as deportation and denial of any future US visas.
Key word is OPTIONAL OPT is temporary employment requested by ISSS and adjudicated by USCIS (Citizen & Immigration Services) OPT is practical training directly related to major area of study. Student are responsible to provide evidence of the direct relation. OPT is normally reserved for 12 months of full-time work authorization after graduation (this is called Post- Completion OPT) however there are two types of OPT Pre Completion OPT: Part-time or full time during the Summer Part-time only during Fall and Spring Post Completion OPT: Full time only after completion of program. F-1 for 1 Year: Must complete 2 long semesters in valid status at UIW before eligible to apply. Student required to complete application with ISSS and submit to USCIS for adjudication.
Since the student’s primary purpose in the U.S. is to STUDY not WORK, if not academically required, most students cannot pursue an internship. Pre-Completion OPT can be an option for internships however there are many obstacles and risks. $380 fee to DHS Must already have a job offer High risk for employers Subtracts from 12 month total usually reserved for after graduation At least 3 month wait for USCIS to adjudicate, no certain timeframe. Cannot be cancelled. Students are encouraged to check with academic advisors regarding internship options in their degree program early on in the program. REMINDER: Unpaid internships and most “volunteer” work at for-profit companies are considered employment under Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security and require ISSS authorization or USCIS adjudication to participate.
SEVISNon-SEVIS On-CampusOff-CampusOn-CampusOff-Campus J-1 Short-Term Exchange No Employment Based Visa (H-1B, E-1, TN, A-1, etc.) Family Based Visa (K-1, etc) No With USCIS authorization Only within sponsoring company. With USCIS authorization J-1 degree- seeking student: Yes, Like F-1 But must be reported to ISSS With ISSS Authorization Dependent/Derivative Visa (H-4, E-1, TD, A-1, L-2 etc.) Children or Spouses of primary visa holders No J-2 Dependent NoWith USCIS authorization Parolee, Adjustment of Status applicants Transitional status, applicant for Permanent Residency but not yet approved or eligible for full benefits. With USCIS authorization Asylee, Refugee or Permanent Resident Yes, with no restriction