Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school. There are two types of practical training available for F-1 students: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).


Any F-1 student who has been enrolled at Warren Wilson or another 4 year college or university for one full academic year may engage in CPT. CPT may occur during the school year or during school breaks and can be full-time or part-time. Any student that completes 12 consecutive months of full-time CPT may be ineligible for OPT. To qualify for CPT, your job or internship must be directly related to your major and you must have declared your major. 
Approval for CPT:
Rachel Kerr will work with you to approve your CPT. To do so you will need to:
  • sign up for CD 4840 with Hannah Richardson (this 2 credit reflection course must be taken the semester after your complete your internship)
  • offer letter from employer
  • indicate whether the position is full-time or part-time
  • the employer and location
  • the employment start and end date
Once Rachel has that information, she will approve you for CPT in SEVIS and send you a new I-20. At that time you can also complete the learning contract for your internship.


Optional Practical Training (OPT) is 12-month work authorization available to F-1 international students who have been full-time students for at least two consecutive semesters and plan to seek employment in the United States in their fields of study.
To be eligible for OPT, students must...
  • be in full-time F-1 status for at least one academic year. 
  • be seeking employment in the major field of study listed on their current WWC I-20.
  • be completing their program of study at WWC. 
  • be physically present in the United States at time of the application to USCIS.
  • NOT have used more than 1 year of full-time CPT during their current degree level (part-time doesn't count).
  • You do not need a job offer first; you can apply for the 12-month OPT authorization without a job offer.
  • You may apply for OPT authorization during your academic program, after your program completion, or a combination of both.
Applying for OPT:
The application process involves both GEO and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and can take 3-5 months. OPT applications must be received in a specific time frame and the application can be rather complex. Once a student is approved for OPT, they will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. 
Step #1: 
Step #2:
  • USCIS Form I-765 filing fee (extra $85 biometric services fee is not required for OPT applications) paid by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.
  • Completed Form I-765.
  • Copy of OPT I-20
  • Copy of your passport identification page
    • If your passport is under renewal, annotate page 7 of the I-765 to include the date you requested the renewal. Use part 2, page 3, item 21b as the citation for this annotation.
  • Copy of your recent F-1 visa (An expired F-1 visa is okay as long as you are in the U.S. and maintaining F-1 status).
  • Optional: previously issued I-20s – we recommend that you include copies of I-20s showing CPT authorizations and OPT authorizations, though this is not a hard requirement. If you have never been authorized for CPT or OPT previously, copies of past I-20s are not required.
  • Two passport-style photos
    • Lightly print your name and your I-94 number or SEVIS ID in pencil or felt pen on the back of each photo.
    • See the USCIS photo instructions  in the “Required Documentation” section on page 13.
    • The photos must have been taken within the last 30 days (do not use the same photos used for your F-1 visa application; USCIS might notice and will return the application).
    • The two photos should have a white background.
    • They should be printed on thin paper with a glossy finish, and be unmounted and unretouched.
    • The photos should show a passport-style, full-face image, with both ears visible.
    • The photos should be 2 by 2 inches, with the distance from the top of the head to just below the chin about 1 3/8 inches.
    • We recommend students to place these in an envelope with name and I-94 number or SEVIS ID on them to avoid them being lost in the packet.
  • Printout of your electronic I-94 information, which can be obtained at
    • With few exceptions, your I-94 should list your ‘class of admission’ as F-1 and your ‘admit until date’ as D/S.
    • Land border crossings are not always documented in the same way that entries via air are. ISS recommends using your most recent date of entrance into the US.
  • Photocopy of previously issued EAD (if applicable)
Step # 3: Receive your endorsed I-20 From GEO; Mail to USCIS
  1. Review the checklist, your new OPT I-20, and any notes on the Form I-765 to make sure it is complete.
  2. Sign your OPT-endorsed I-20 at the bottom of page 1 before photocopying it and adding it to your OPT application materials.
  3. Mail your entire application within 30 days of the new OPT-endorsed I-20 being issued. The application must also be received no later than 60 days after your I-20 end date. Late applications will be denied by USCIS. 
  • Do not mail your original passport, I-94, or I-20.
  • Make copies of everything that you send – including the I-765.
  • It is recommended you send your application by certified mail, return receipt requested.
  • Review the USCIS mailing instructions to find the correct filing location.
Once your OPT has been approved by USCIS, you may begin working on your start date.