OPT and Other Off-Campus Employment for International Students


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

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment opportunity in the U.S., available to international students in valid F-1 status, in your field of study, after you have been enrolled full-time for one full academic year. 

In order to be considered CPT, the experience must be a required or integral part of your program of study and directly related to your field.

Students applying for CPT must attend a workshop, which the ISSC offers a few times each semester.

CPT requests should now be submitted by e-form, found on Forms & Instructions.

CPT Letters for Approval will be requested as part of the e-form process:

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.

To report your 12-month OPT employment and U.S. address, use the SEVP Portal. Check your UMassD email for an email from do-not-reply.sevp@ice.dhs.gov to set up your portal account.

Students applying for permission for either before-completion of studies or after-completion of studies Optional Practical Training must attend a workshop, which the ISSC offers a few times each semester.

Request & recommendation forms:

A 24-month period of STEM OPT is available for eligible F-1 students.

If you are on STEM OPT, email your employer update (including Form I-983) to intl_office@umassd.edu. Use the SEVP Portal to report your U.S. address. 

Summary of eligibility requirements

Qualifying degree & school: CIP code of degree’s major field of study must appear on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. Degree must be from an accredited, SEVP-certified, U.S. institution of higher education.

Qualifying job: Must be a paid job, for at least 20 hours per week.  

Qualifying employer: Must be registered in E-Verify and have an EIN; student may not be self-employed.  

Form I-983 training plan: Student and employer must complete Form I-983 training plan; and the student must present the completed I-983 to the DSO before the DSO recommends STEM OPT.  

Filing deadlines: USCIS must receive Form I-765 and fee before the expiration of the student’s standard 12-month OPT, and no later than 60 days from the date the DSO recommended the benefit in SEVIS.

To apply: Follow the instructions on STEM Eligibility Requirements & Checklist.