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. To participate in one of the training opportunities listed below, you do not need to change your F-1 visa status. 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 that any international student who receives financial compensation of any kind must apply for a U.S. Social Security number. Click here for information on how to do so.
Optional Practical Training for F-1 Students
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a form of training, often paid, that directly relates to your program of study. 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 breaks. Post-completion training is usually full-time.
You can apply for 12 months of OPT at each education level (that is, you may have 12 months of OPT at the bachelor’s or master’s level and, if you continue your education as an international student, another 12 months of OPT at the master’s or doctoral level). 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 that you are eligible for OPT at this point in your program and to discuss the types of employment opportunities that would qualify.
(2) After OPT is approved, obtain a position that directly relates to your program of study.
(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 (Form I-766), commonly called an EAD.
(4) Give a copy of the EAD to your PDSO/DSO, along with an original, signed copy of the Albizu University OPT Compliance Form. You cannot begin your practical training until you receive your EAD from USCIS and submit it and 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, the PDSO/DSO enters your employment details in SEVIS and endorses your Form I-20 for employment authorization.
Curricular Practical Training for F-1 Students
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an alternative study, internship, or 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 of studies 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 of study, 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 in your program and to 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 for your program of study.
(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, the 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 starting your own business in the United States, also known as entrepreneurship, as work. Therefore, if you are an F-1 student who plans to start your own business in the United States, you must qualify and apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) following the steps above.
The OPT, and thus the business, must relate to your program of study and can occur either before (pre-completion OPT) or after (post-completion OPT) you finish your program of study. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for OPT. Please note that an F-1 student may be authorized for no more than 12 months of OPT 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.