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 UMD 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 Presentation

‌     OPT Checklist‌‌

  OPT Request and Recommendation forms:

     OPT Graduate Request

       OPT Undergrad Request


  • 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 these instructions to apply:  

 - STEM Eligibility Requirements & Checklist

 - STEM CIP Codes

Useful resources:

 - Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
 - U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS)

  • 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.  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 Presentation 

CPT Letters for Approval:

       Graduate Sample Letter     

  CPT Sample Letter - ugrad 

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 Presentation

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.