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What is CPT?
CPT is for F-1 Student visa holders who wish to take part in a paid or unpaid off-campus internship provided they have maintained their visa status. It is a class and is not meant to be a road to employment. It is vital that your CPT learning experience be an instrumental part of achieving a curricular academic objective.
To maintain your status, you must register, update addresses, obtain authorization for all employment with or from ISSS.
Yes. Because CPT is a class, enrollment is required. The Career Management Center and your academic department can help you with determining both how many credits you need and the course number.
While on CPT, you are on a Student visa and, therefore, your focus must legally remain your studies and graduation. CPT can help you learn what you are looking for in your field or in an employer. In some cases, CPT employers are interested in hiring students when they start their OPT after graduation.
The following items are requirements for CPT eligibility:
- Attend the CPT workshop within six months of your internship
- GPA--Undergraduates: 2.0, Graduates: 3.0
- Two semesters of full-time enrollment in a fall/spring or spring/fall combination completed
- Approved RCL in ISSS for any semester in which you took fewer than the required number of credits (ANY time undergraduates go below 12 hours and graduates go below 9 hours)
Full-time CPT is an internship where you work 21 or more hours per week. Part-time is 20 or fewer. If, once you have started your CPT, you find you need to decrease or increase your hours, a new application must be filed and approved before you work the new hours.
If everyone in your program is required to have the internship or practicum, you may have both a part-time CPT and a graduate assistantship.
If an internship is not required of everyone in your program, you may not have a graduate assistantship and do CPT at the same time during the fall or spring semester.
If you are in your graduating semester and CPT is not required of everyone in your program, you may not have an assistantship or on-campus employment of any kind.
Unfortunately, that is not possible.
As stated above, you must have been in full-time student status for two full semesters (an academic year) before you can do CPT. Students may do one semester of part-time CPT any semester after that while they are full-time students. Full-time CPT can only be done in the summer or in the graduating semester.
CPT is a class and, therefore, can only be done within the dates of the academic semester.
Earliest Possible Start Date
Latest Possible End Date
24 August 2013
13 December 2013
11 January 2014
9 May 2014
19 May 2014
14 August 2014
Yes. If an internship is required of every student in your program, you may do your CPT when required after obtaining approval from your ISSS advisor, who will require documentation of the mandatory internship/practicum from your department.
Yes, but please note that just because an elective is required, that does not mean an internship is required. There are currently only eight programs at ODU that require ALL participants complete an internship.
You must register for CPT and additional academic credits; part-time or full-time CPT is permitted (see Question 6 above for more info). Note that you may have only one graduating semester; if you do not graduate as planned, you must wait for OPT upon graduation.
No, this is not permitted by Immigration.
You only need to submit the CPT Request Form, the CPT Responsibilities Form and the original internship offer letter (see Question 15 below). Be sure you do not have any registration holds and that the CMC has added the course to your schedule.
Your start date can never be in the past; it must be at least 10 business days in the future from the date you submit your application.
All of the following must be included in your letter:
- Your name
- Internship site's name and address
- Hours of work per week
- Stating if position is paid or unpaid; if paid, wages must be states at an hourly rate
- Brief description of duties
- Start and end dates (current semester only)
- Statement that this is an internship only (i.e. not long-term employment); a template of the letter is part of the CPT application packet.
No. Your supervisor, to ensure that the internship site and you are following the law, must allow time for your paperwork to be processed. If you go to your internship site before you have your CPT I-20, you will be in violation of the law and ineligible for future benefits like OPT.
Refer your supervisor to the Off-Campus Employers section of the ISSS web site for more information.
In the CMC, it will take a few days and, in ISSS, it takes up to 10 business days for us to process your application and issue your new I-20. We will do our best to process your application as quickly as possible. Please do not call or come to the office for a status check. Instead, you can e-mail the office at the end of the 10 business-day processing time.
You'll get an e-mail in your ODU student e-mail inbox. This will let you know that your I-20 is ready for pick-up in ISSS. Once you have your I-20 and the start date of your CPT has arrived, you may begin your internship.
First, make sure your addresses (SEVIS U.S. and ODU Permanent) are updated. Keep an eye on ISSlist e-mails for updates and reminders of paperwork requirements. Attend the OPT workshop BEFORE you leave for your CPT.
The best thing to do is to attend the CPT workshop and then follow up by meeting with your ISSS advisor. Also, see Question 6 above for more information.
Please fill these forms out online FIRST and then print to sign and submit to your department. Thanks!
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What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
There are two types of OPT. This section discusses Regular OPT; for information about STEM OPT, please visit that section. Regular OPT is temporary employment authorized by Immigration for F-1 visa holders for 12 months. It must be directly related to your major and gives you a chance to put your classroom knowledge into real world practice.
Between 14 weeks before graduation and 4 weeks after graduation. Once you pick up your application and new I-20 from ISSS, be sure to send it immediately to Immigration because your I-20 must be received by them within a short time frame.
Yes, with somewhat of an exception for Ph.D. students who have completed their coursework (discussed in detail in the OPT workshop). You must have already applied for graduation with the Registrar and undergraduate students must also have satisfied the writing requirement before submitting an OPT application to ISSS.
- Sufficient GPA: 3.0 for graduates and 2.0 for undergraduates
- SEVIS U.S., SEVIS Home Country and ODU Permanent addresses updatedFull-time registration for each fall and spring semester (9 credits for graduates, 12 credits for undergraduates)
- If you took fewer than 9/12 credits in a fall or spring semester, you had an approved Reduced Courseload Request (RCL) with ISSSPassport valid for at least six months into the future
- OPT workshop within six months of your OPT application
ISSS needs up to ten business days for checking your application and issuing your I-20. Immigration states that it takes 90 days to issue your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Yes. If you successfully complete ALL requirements for your degree and the Registrar has approved your application for graduation, you may submit your application for OPT with documentation from the Registrar. Note that you are also able to apply for CPT, but that application must be processed before your OPT because SEVIS does not permit the issuance of a CPT I-20 after an OPT I-20.
- OPT Request Form (filled out online and then printed)
- Copies of ALL I-20s EVER issued to you by ODU and any other school
- Copies of biographical information page from your passport (if the picture and/or expiration date are on different pages, include those as well)
- Copy of most recent visa stamp
- Copies of BOTH sides of your I-94
- Copies of the front only of any previous EADs
- Personal check for $380 made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Your SEVIS ID number and "OPT" must be in the bottom left section
- If your name and full address are not on the check, please write them in
- If you don't have checks, a cashier's check is acceptable
- A money order is not acceptable
- Two passport-style photos (be sure to save your receipt in case Immigration returns your application because the pictures don't meet requirements)
NO STAPLES OR CLIPS MAY BE SUBMITTED and your application will be returned if there are any in your paperwork. No double-sided copies can be processed and document copies should show the actual size; no enlargements, please. The copies should also be on 8.5 x 11 paper ("American-sized"). Copies must be legible or Immigration will return your application.
ISSS will send an e-mail to your ODU student e-mail account with information on how you will send your application to Immigration. We strongly recommend you send your application via FedEx or UPS to track its progress and, most especially, delivery confirmation.
Sometimes, Immigration will contact you because they can't read something clearly, your pictures do not meet requirements, you haven't submitted all I-20s or some other reason. This is called an RFE and is usually two pieces of blue paper. Simply respond to what they are requesting; if you want ISSS to be sure you are responding properly, you can scan the RFE in PDF format to our office e-mail address.
Most student request to start the Monday after graduation. You may postpone the beginning of your OPT up to 60 days after graduation.
No. You must not work unless your EAD card is with you and the date on the card has arrived.
Call the phone number on the receipt you get from Immigration to learn your options.
Unfortunately, Immigration requires that your OPT time is to be primarily spent working. Therefore, Immigration does not permit students to be degree-seeking in any program.
Yes. Every six months and/or when there is change in your employment, you must submit the OPT Employment Update within five days. If you know where you are working when you apply for OPT, your first OPT Employment Update will at your 6-month mark or if a change happens before you reach your sixth month. If you don't know where you will be working when you submit your OPT to ISSS, your first OPT Employment Update will be 10 days after you get your EAD card.
No, many students have no idea where they'll be working when they start their OPT. You may have a maximum of 90 days' unemployment on Regular OPT; this time counts both inside and outside the U.S.
Before the end of 90, you must do one of the following:
- Leave the U.S. and continue your job search from your home country (but in another visa status)
- Return to school for a new degree program (but lose OPT)
- Change to another visa status
Yes. Your OPT is granted on an ODU I-20 and, therefore, we are the office who forwards your address updates to Immigration. Current information is required to properly maintain your status. The following pieces of information must be current at all times while on OPT:
Please submit a PDF scan of your new visa status information to ISSS so we can make the proper updates in our file and your SEVIS record.
Yes, along with your addresses and visa status updates, we also ask that you submit a black and white scan of your EAD.
While Immigration is processing your Regular OPT application, ISSS recommends you not leave because they may contact you for additional information. If you aren't here, you won't be able to provide it.
A travel signature is required just as when you are studying but you can only return to the U.S. on OPT if it is to begin or resume a job. You must have a job offer letter and, if you were previously working the company, pay stubs as well.
You must get an F-1 visa to re-enter for your OPT. Special travel conditions apply for trips to Mexico, Canada and islands adjacent to the U.S.
If your job is "borderline" (may not appear to be directly related to your major), ask your supervisor to write a letter on company letterhead to justify the connection between your education and your position. Keep this letter for future reference. In this example, the student is actually the accountant for the restaurant.
No. Your OPT I-20 is valid together with your EAD. Your OPT I-20 expires when your EAD expires.
Yes. You can take up to two nondegree courses per semester as an OPT participant.
Unfortunately, Immigration has not informed us of any procedure that will achieve this.
Yes. You can work anywhere that applies to your major and as long as you submit an OPT Employment Update for each position.
To qualify as being employed, you must work at least 20 hours per week. There is no maximum to the number of hours you can work.
Yes. You may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern while on OPT where it does not violate labor laws. Check with the HR office at the company or a labor lawyer to verify this. The volunteer work must be at least 20 hours per week. You must still obtain a letter from your supervisor for the volunteer position to verify that you are not being paid and that you are volunteering at least 20 hours per week.
If you are ONLY volunteering and the position meets the criteria mentioned above, yes. If you have a primary position and are doing something for, say, the Red Cross in your free time, no.
You need your OPT I-20 and EAD to do this. If you don't yet have your EAD, you can request a letter from ISSS and take that along with your OPT I-20 to the DMV along with their other required documents.
No, but we strongly recommend you maintain insurance until you get a job where it is offered to you. You are eligible to continue with ODU's insurance.
The other information on this page is under revision. Please attend an OPT workshop, read the presentation above or e-mail ISSS (firstname.lastname@example.org) for questions until the inofrmation is re-posted. Thanks!
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What is STEM OPT
STEM refers to majors in Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It allows a student who majored in one of those areas to obtain a STEM OPT extension of an additional 17 months, bringing the total OPT time to 29 months. Minors do not count for STEM.
The following items must be submitted to apply for STEM OPT:
- Request for STEM (filled out online)
- I-765 (filled out online)
- STEM OPT Responsibilities form
- Copies of all I-20s ever issued to you by ODU and any other school
- Biographical information page from your passport (if the picture and/or expiration date are on different pages, include those as well)
- Most recent visa stamp
- BOTH sides of your I-94Any previous EADs (front side only)
- Two passport-style photos (can be taken at University Card Center)
- Personal check for $380 made out to USCIS
- Copy of diploma
Please note that copies should be submitted on 8.5 x 11 paper ("American-sized") and documents should be copied in actual size. The only exception to this is your diploma, which must be reduced in size to fit on 8.5 x 11 paper.
You should submit your STEM OPT application 120 days before your Regular OPT expires--no sooner than that. As always, your application will take up to ten business days to be processed in ISSS. As with Regular OPT, you will be sent an e-mail to notify you when it is ready for you to pick up and then you will mail it to the address we have indicated in that e-mail.
Provided you have submitted your application to ISSS within the time period mentioned in the previous question, you should get a receipt from Immigration that will allow you to continue working up to 180 days while your EAD is being issued. Be sure to keep your receipt, even after your EAD is issued.
Your employer must be registered with e-Verify, a new government system. No e-Verified employer lists are available. This employment must be for at least 20 hours per week.
Yes, however, you may not travel while your application is pending. Once your EAD has been issued, you'll be able to travel with proof of employment with an e-Verify employer and other documents as detailed on our Travel Reminders. If you need to get a new visa in your passport, you'll get an F-1.
Yes. You must have the following:
- Proof of employment that you'll be starting or resuming a job
- Pay stubs from current or previous employer(s)
- STEM OPT I-20 with a signature from ISSS less than six months old upon re-entry
- Transcript or copy of diploma
Yes, you must continue with address updates (SEVIS U.S., SEVIS Home Country and U.S. Permanent) just as when you were a registered student. You must also submit OPT Employment updates every six months or sooner, if there is a change in your work situation. IMMIGRATION WILL TERMINATE YOUR SEVIS RECORD (AND OPT) IF YOU DO NOT GET THE UPDATES TO US IN TIME.
Yes, you may be unemployed up to 120 days on STEM.
Yes, but all employers must be registered with e-Verify.