OPT and Other Off-Campus Employment for International Students

This page gives information about steps to follow when you are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT) (students on F-1 visa), or Academic Training (students on J-1 visa).

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

Such positions may be unpaid, but must not violate any labor laws and must not be a paid position for which you “volunteer“ to do without payment.  Further details and requirements are available at the U.S. Department of Labor.    

Off-Campus Employment for F-1 Students

To report your 12 month OPT employment and US 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).

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

12-Month Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT), allows F-1 students to gain a maximum of 12 months of practical experience directly related to their field of study per higher degree level.  It is considered off-campus employment.  

Students applying for permission for either before-completion of studies or after-completion of studies Optional Practical Training must attend a workshop offered by the International Student & Scholar Center. This workshop is offered a few times each semester.

OPT Request and Recommendation forms:

24-month STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) 

Effective May 10, 2016, a new 24-month period of STEM OPT is available for eligible F-1 students.  Below is a brief summary of the eligibility requirements under the 24-month STEM OPT rule

Qualifying degree and 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, US institution of higher education.

Qualifying job

Job must be a paid job, for at least 20 hours per week.  

Qualifying employer

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

On and after May 10, 2016, effective date of the final rule, USCIS must receive 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.  -NAFSA Adviser's Manual 360

Please follow the instructions on STEM Eligibility Requirements & Checklist (PDF) to apply.

Useful resources

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment opportunity in the United States, available to international students in valid F-1 status, in their 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 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) must attend a workshop offered by the International Student & Scholar Center.  This workshop is offered a few times each semester.

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

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

Off-Campus Employment for J-1 Students

Academic Training

J-1 students are eligible for off-campus employment in the form of Academic Training.  Students applying for Academic Training must attend a workshop offered by the International Student & Scholar Center.

Academic training involves work, training, or experience related to a student’s field of study, and is often done after completion of the program of study.  Academic training may be paid or unpaid.  Please see this separate section for details.