Office of International Student & Scholar Services

Practical Training

Employment & Practical Training

Employment is any type of work performed or services provided in exchange for money, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, food, or any other benefit. If you receive no pay or other benefit for the work performed, and the position is normally an unpaid position, this activity is considered to be volunteer work. Volunteering for a job that is usually a paid position is still considered employment.

All international students must make sure that any employment they plan to engage in is legal and that they have the necessary employment authorization before beginning to work. Illegal or unauthorized employment can have serious consequences such as termination of their immigration status. It is always recommended for F-1 and J-1 students to consult with an international student advisor concerning their eligibility or category of employment.

F-1 students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours per week during official school breaks. Special authorization from OISSS is not required for on-campus work, but you must continue maintaining valid F-1 status and to be good academic standing to remain eligible for this benefit.

A new and transfer-in F-1 student may begin working on campus as much as 30 days before the start of a program of study. They should inform the DSO before they begin work. If an F-1 student finishes a program and starts another program of study at the same campus, the student may continue on-campus employment as long as the student plans to enroll in the new program of study for the next term.

Acceptable employment includes assistantship or fellowship, working within TAMUK offices or departments, and work performed on TAMUK premises for an outside contractor or firm as long as the employer provides direct services to students.

Finding an on-campus Job

Currently enrolled students may search for part-time, on-campus employment positions on the website of Human Resource Department and website of Career Engagement. 

The CPT program/course must be an integral part of an established curriculum Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of employment that must be an integral part of an established curriculum, for example, required internships as published in the school catalog.

Under most circumstances, to be eligible for CPT students must have been in F-1 student status for one academic year. A job offer is required to be eligible to apply for CPT. While there is no limit to the length of time students may engage in CPT, any student who works for twelve (12) months or more in full-time CPT automatically loses the eligibility of any Optional Practical Training after completion of studies.

For more information see Curricular Practical Training.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in their field of studies. Any work done must be related to the student’s field of study. It is best used for jobs or internships that are not “an integral part of an established curriculum.” No job offer is required to apply for OPT. To be eligible for OPT, the student must have been in F-1 student status for one academic year. OPT is available for a total of twelve (12) months of full-time OPT per degree level. The periods of OPT can be used before completion of studies (pre-completion OPT), after completion of studies (post-completion OPT), or for a combination of both. Any periods of OPT used before completion of studies will be deducted from the total twelve-month period available.

There are very specific differences between Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). Refer to this chart to see which may work better for your academic plans:

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Student must have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year to be eligible.

Student must have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year to be eligible.

Student may use CPT authorization only before completion of studies

Student may use OPT authorization before graduation (pre-completion OPT) and after graduation (post-completion OPT).

Employment must be “integral to the established curriculum” of the degree program.

Employment must be directly related to the student’s major field of study.

Student must be registered for a course corresponding to the employment.

No course registration corresponding to the employment is required.

Only authorized on a semester basis

Not semester specific

Student can work either

  • Part-time (20 hours per week or less) when school is in session or

  • Full-time during winter and summer break.

Note: Only students who are working solely on their thesis/dissertation or final project may apply for full-time CPT during the fall or spring semester.

Pre-completion OPT may be

  • Part-time (20 hours per week or less) when school is in session

  • Full-time during school breaks (winter or summer)

  • Full-time (when working on thesis or dissertation).

12 months of full-time CPT eliminates eligibility for OPT. Part-time CPT employment does NOT affect eligibility for OPT.

Any periods of pre-completion OPT, whether part- or full-time, are deducted from the total 12-month OPT period.

Employer-specific:  Student can only work for the employer listed on the student’s I-20 and in SEVIS.

Not employer-specific: Student can work for any employer as long as the position is related to his/her field of study.

OISSS can authorize CPT by issuing a new I-20 with CPT recommendation.

OISSS and USCIS must authorize OPT.

Processing time is 5-7 business days.

Processing times vary, but are generally 1-3 months.

Employment is only permitted during the dates in the CPT recommendation on the student’s I-20 and in SEVIS.

Employment is only permitted during the validity dates on the EAD card.

OISSS processing fee is $25.00

OISSS processing fee is $50.00

To be eligible for Employment Authorization Based on Economic Hardship, F-1 students must have been in F-1 student status for at least one academic year and must prove to USCIS that employment is necessary due to severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond their control that arose after obtaining F-1 status. For more information, talk to an OISSS international student advisor.

An F-1 student currently engaged in a period of post-completion OPT who has been awarded a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved STEM field and works for an E-Verify employer is eligible to apply for the STEM extension. Effective May 10, 2016, a new DHS rule extends the period of STEM OPT from 17 to 24 months. The 17-month STEM OPT regulations remain in effect through May 9, 2016.

Please see our STEM OPT Extension website for more information.

The SEVP Portal is a new feature from DHS that allows OPT and STEM OPT students to view and report address and employer information directly into their SEVIS record. Students who have been approved for OPT Employment Authorization should receive an e-mail from SEVP with instructions for creating a new account for the SEVP Portal.

For students who are interested in utilizing the SEVP Portal are encouraged to view the instructional videos provided by SEVP to assist in navigating the system:

OISSS also offers a helpful SEVP Portal FAQ on our website.

The H-1B Cap Gap Extension allows certain students with pending or approved H-1B petitions to remain in the U.S. in F-1 status until the start date of their approved H-1B employment period, even if the OPT authorization and/or F-1 grace period would have otherwise expired before October 1.

Please click here for more information regarding the Cap-Gap Extension.

Employment & Practical Training Forms and Information