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Curricular and Optional Practical Training


Information about Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for students on F-1 visas.

These positions may be unpaid, but must not violate any labor laws and must not be a paid position for which you "volunteer" without payment. More information and requirements: U.S. Department of Labor.    

If this type of training is your first employment in the U.S., you will need to apply for a Social Security Number

NOTE: For students on J-1 visas, see: Academic Training

You cannot begin work/training until you have the new I-20 from the ISSC.



What Is CPT?

Curricular practical training (CPT) is an alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or another type of required practicum available to international students with valid F-1 status. In order to be considered CPT, the experience must be an integral part of your program of study and directly related to your field.

Who Is Eligible For CPT?

To qualify for CPT, you must:

  1. have been in lawful, full-time F-1 student status for at least one full academic year (combination of Fall and Spring semesters); 
  2. be maintaining valid F-1 status at the time of the application.

How To Apply For CPT? 

  1. Attend a CPT Workshop and review the CPT Presentation. 
    1. CPT Presentation
  2. To obtain approval signature, ask your academic department to download the CPT Letter, complete it, and print it on department letterhead.
    1. CPT Approval Letter - Undergraduate
    2. CPT Approval Letter - Graduate
  3. Combine the CPT Approval Letter, Proof of Class Enrollment (screenshot from your COIN record/receipt showing your enrollment in the approved CPT course), and Job Offer Letter into ONE pdf document. Upload the CPT application document via the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - eform

Do not submit an online I-765 with USCIS before obtaining an OPT I-20 from the ISSC!



What Is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to gain a maximum of 12 months of practical experience directly related to your field of study. An additional 12 months are available for each higher degree you have earned.

Who Is Eligible For OPT?

To be eligible to apply for OPT, you must:

  • have been in lawful, full-time F-1 student status for at least one full academic year (combination of Fall and Spring semesters); 
  • be maintaining valid F-1 status inside the U.S. at the time of the application,
  • have not used OPT at the same degree level previously.

How to apply For OPT?

  • Attend an OPT Workshop or review the OPT Presentation 2023.
  • Complete the OPT Request & Recommendation Form with signatures. (This is an internal form required by the ISSC. Do not submit it to USCIS.)
  • Gather the following required documents
    • biological page of the passport
    • F-1 visa
    • most recent I-94
  • Upload all the required documents via Optional Practical Training (OPT) eform
  • Wait for ISSC to create your new I-20 containing the OPT recommendation.  We will email you when it is ready with instructions as to how to retrieve it through UMassVIP.
  • File your OPT application to USCIS online (Please contact the ISSC if you decide to apply by mail.)

After Receiving The EAD Card

After you have received your EAD, please upload a copy here, Upload EAD.

Reporting Requirements

  • Federal regulations require that international students report the following changes via the SEVP Portal within 10 days of the change occurring:
    • Physical address and/or mailing address;
    • Legal name;
    • US telephone number/email address;
    • Employment;
    • Immigration status;
    • The decision to leave the US.
  • To report your 12-month OPT employment and U.S. address, use the SEVP Portal. Check your UMassD email for an email from to set up your portal account.
  • If you need detailed instructions and explanations on how to navigate and utilize the various features of the SEVP Portal, please refer to the SEVP Portal Student User Guide.
  • If you have NOT received a link from the SEVP to create an account, please fill out this eform to request a reset.  ISSC team will reset your account and an email from the SEVP will be sent with the information to create your account.  Please be sure to check your spam and junk email folders first before requesting a reset.
  • For 12 Month OPT ONLY!! If you have missed the 10-day window to report your employer through the SEVP portal, please complete this eform to request assistance from the ISSC.


Do not submit an online I-765 with USCIS before obtaining a STEM OPT I-20 from the ISSC!



What Is STEM OPT Extension?

The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that is available to F-1 students in approved STEM fields after the initial 12-month post-completion OPT. The STEM OPT extension must be directly related to your program of study.

Who Is Eligible For STEM OPT Extension? 

To qualify for STEM OPT Extension, you must:

  1. be authorized for Post-Completion OPT and currently be in a valid period of OPT.
  2. have a degree in a STEM field of study (The CIP code on your I-20 must be on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List).
  3. have a job that:
    • is paid;
    • at least 20 hours per week;
    • the employer must be registered in E-Verify and have an EIN
    • the employer can complete the Form I-983 training plan.

NOTE:  A new provision in the STEM OPT rule allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to perform site visits to employer locations that train STEM OPT students.  Please provide this Employer Site Visits information to your employer.

How To Apply For STEM OPT Extension?

  1. Review the STEM Eligibility Requirements & Checklist
  2. Complete/gather the following documents: 
    • Form I-765
    • Form I-983
    • Copy of unofficial transcript for STEM-eligible degree
  3. Complete the ISSC’s STEM Extension I-20 Request Form and upload the required documents. 
  4. Obtain the updated I-20 from the ISSC.
  5. Submit your application to the USCIS. 

Filing deadlines: You can submit your STEM OPT extension application to USCIS as early as 90 days prior to the end of your current OPT period. You must submit your STEM OPT application to USCIS no later than 60 days from the date the DSO recommended the benefit in SEVIS.

Reporting Requirements

  1. Federal regulations require a STEM OPT student regularly validate SEVIS information and report changes in order to maintain your legal F-1 status.
    • Each STEM OPT student must complete and submit the validation every six months to confirm the information on the SEVP record is accurate.
    • Each STEM OPT student must complete and submit the self-evaluation every 12 months to describe the progress of the training experience.
    • To complete the validations and self-evaluations, please use the STEM Extension Reporting eForm
  2. If your STEM employer changes or you want to add a second STEM eligible employer, then please submit the STEM Extension Employer Update eForm. This must be done prior to starting the new position.

Your US address must be current in your COIN account and your SEVP Portal.

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