USA Employment Opportunities for International Students
Off-Campus Employment -Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Students who want to work in full-time, PAID, off-campus employment, must participate in a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Internship option. The purpose of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is to integrate real-life employment training with a student's education. Immigration Service regulations allow international students who are enrolled in a Curricular Practical Training to work in paid internship positions. Through CPT, also known as a work-study, cooperative Education, internship, or co-op option, international students who are studying in a U.S. university or college may work up to 40 hours per week in U.S. based companies. This CPT option is designed to give students practical work experience in these curriculum-related employment opportunities with local U.S. based corporations and businesses. Graduate students may engage in internship employment, as early as the beginning of the student's academic program, if they are in a program or class where internship employment is mandatory from the beginning of the students' study. Along with the mandatory internship or CPT employment, students will need to take a total of 15 to 18 courses, depending on the enrolled program.
Legal Overview of "Integral" Part of Curriculum
The option of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is for international students enrolled in participating school's degree programs or classes. CPT is authorized by the U.S. Homeland Security Department for F-1 international students and is equivalent to the CPT option for U.S. students. F-1 students wishing to participate in an off-campus training opportunity must enroll in a program or course that is "an integral part of an established curriculum". CPT must be an integral part of a program or a course of study.
The training, which must be directly related to the student's major field of study, is defined as "alternate work-study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum, which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school" (Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 214.2 (f)(10).
CPT opportunities that have the curriculum set up so internship jobs are mandatory and are part of the whole program or course of study, require students to begin their curricular training immediately, usually in the first or second semester of the first year of study. This is very different than CPT opportunities offered at many universities where the applicant cannot start the CPT employment until he/she has been in school for at least one academic year (usually nine months).
F-1 students are legally allowed to work at least 20 hours a week in on-campus employment. Students can begin working on-campus as soon as they have located a job. This type of employment can be any position that involves the school. For example, being a tutor, assisting a professor as an assistant, or working in the library are just a few of the many types of school employment opportunities available to international students.
Off-Campus Employment-Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available for students to engage in employment for one year after graduating from their bachelor or master program. Students graduating in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) can extend their OPT for an additional 17 months.
Full-time students enrolled in certain programs in designated Canadian institutions are allowed to work part-time off campus during the school year and full-time during scheduled school breaks.
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