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Practical Training for International Students

Practical Training for International Students

The United States allows eligible international students and new graduates the opportunity for on-the-job training that supplements knowledge gained in their academic studies. You do not need to change your F-1 visa status to participate in one of the training opportunities listed below. Instead, you must work with your Albizu University PDSO/DSO to ensure your eligibility for training as well as to apply for and receive proper authorization.

Note: All international students who receive financial compensation of any kind must apply for a U.S. Social Security number (SSN). Click here for information on how to apply for your SSN.

Optional Practical Training for F-1 Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a form of training that is often paid and directly relates to your study program. You can apply for OPT during your academic program, which is called pre-completion OPT, or after you finish your studies, which is called post-completion OPT. Pre-completion OPT is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session but can be full-time during semester breaks. Post-completion OPT is usually full-time.

You can apply for 12 OPT months at each education level. In other words, you may be able to apply for 12 OPT months at the bachelor’s or master’s level and, if you continue your education as an international student, an additional 12 OPT months at the master’s or doctoral level.

Note: Students in English language training programs are ineligible for OPT.

The following steps are required to apply for OPT:

(1) Check with your PDSO/DSO to verify your eligibility for OPT at this point in your program and discuss the types of employment opportunities that would qualify.

(2) After OPT is approved, obtain a position that directly relates to your program.

(3) File an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) and supporting documents with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Click here to obtain the application form and related instructions.  If your application is approved, USCIS will mail you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD or Form I-766), which is commonly known as a work permit.

(4) Give a copy of the EAD to your PDSO/DSO, along with an original, signed copy of the Albizu University OPT Compliance Form. Your practical training cannot begin until you receive your EAD from USCIS and submit it with the Compliance Form to your PDSO/DSO.

(5) Complete the OPT Employment Form and submit it to your PDSO/DSO. If everything on your Employment Form is in order, your PDSO/DSO will enter your employment details in SEVIS and endorse your Form I-20 for employment authorization.

Curricular Practical Training for F-1 Students

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an alternative study, internship, or any other type of required practicum that is offered by an authorized employer through Albizu University. Your program coordinator can help you identify authorized employers in the Miami area.

CPT is only available to you when your program already includes practical training as part of the established curriculum. However, unlike pre-completion OPT, CPT can be full-time and is not restricted by a weekly 20-hour work limit. In order to qualify for CPT, you must have completed one full academic year, unless you are a graduate student whose program requires immediate practical training.

The following steps are required to apply for CPT:

(1) Check with your PDSO/DSO to verify that you are eligible for CPT at this point and discuss the types of employment opportunities that would qualify.

(2) Ask your program coordinator for a list of employers authorized to provide practical training opportunities to Albizu University students.

(3) Obtain a position with an authorized employer that directly relates to and meets the requirements of your program.

(4) Complete the CPT Employment Form and submit it to your PDSO/DSO along with an original, signed copy of the CPT Compliance Form. If everything on your Employment Form and Compliance Form is in order, your PDSO/DSO enters your employment details in SEVIS and endorses your Form I-20 for employment authorization.

F-1 Students and Entrepreneurship

The U.S. government considers entrepreneurship (starting your own business) as work. Therefore, if you are an F-1 student who plans to start your own business in the United States, you must follow the abovementioned steps to qualify and apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

The business you start as your OPT must relate to your studies and can begin either before (pre-completion OPT) or after (post-completion OPT) you finish your program. This option is unavailable for students in English language training programs. Please note that an F-1 student may be authorized for no more than 12 OPT months and becomes eligible for another 12 months only upon enrolling in another post-secondary degree program at a higher degree level.

If you want to start your own business while you are studying in the United States, speak to your PDSO/DSO and review the USCIS Entrepreneur Visa Guide.

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