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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).

CPT

Eligibility:
Any F-1 student who has been enrolled at Warren Wilson for a full academic year may use 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, you must have declared your major, and your work must be eligible for the internship process with Hannah Richardson. 
 
Approval for CPT:
Rachel Kerr will work with you to approve your CPT. To do so you will need to:
  • Meet with Hannah Richardson and complete the internship proposal process.
  • 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 (keep in mind that full time work is only available during the semester in rare circumstances)
  • the employer and full employment location and address
  • 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.

OPT

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.
 
Eligibility:
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: 
  • Meet with Rachel Kerr to discuss OPT including:
    • timeline and process
    • determination of OPT start date (anytime after your graduation date and up until 60 days post graduation) 
Step #2:
  • Complete Form I-765 (I recommend completing the form online here)
  • Pay the $475 I-765 filing fee by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card 
  • To complete the form I-765, you will need:
    • Copy of OPT I-20 with requested OPT from Rachel
    • 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
    • PDF of your electronic I-94 information
      • 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
  • Wait for your EAD to arrive!

Once your OPT has been approved by USCIS, and your EAD has arrived, you may begin working on or after your initial start date. Be sure to communicate with Rachel when you have accepted a job position so your new job can be added to your I-20.