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Office of International Studies and Programs


Off-Campus Employment

Obtaining permission for an Internship/Curricular Practical Training (CPT):

International students are eligible for Curricular Practical Training as one of their immigration benefits as F-1 Student Visa holders.  Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is off campus employment, usually in the form of an internship, cooperative education, practicum or other work/study experience.  CPT can be a paid or non-paid experience.  Regulations allow for this to be for-credit or no-credit, full or part-time. It must be directly related to the student’s major area of study, and is with an employer that has a cooperative agreement with the school.  Departments or majors with no internship component in the approved curriculum for the major do not need to make special exceptions or provisions for international students.

International students can request CPT as follows:

  1. A student interested in CPT should work with their major advisor to see if an internship for credit is an available option for the major.  (BUS 490 for example is the internship course for College of Business students.) The student is responsible for finding their own internship opportunity and must ensure that it is directly related to the major with the major or faculty advisor.  The student must also work with Career Services on the required Cooperative Learning Agreement paperwork.

  2. The student should be in their declared major at least 1 quarter and meet the minimum GPA requirements set by CWU the academic department.  To be eligible for immigration purposes, undergraduate students will need to have been enrolled full time for an academic year (time at a previous institution on the same SEVIS ID number will be counted).

  3. The student will complete the paperwork with Career Services and enroll in at least one credit of internship course.  Additional employment time with that employer can be added to the student’s immigration record, and they can continue working as long as an additional approval form is completed and submitted with OISP prior to the end date of current employment on the I-20.  CPT approval is for one quarter at a time and must be submitted quarterly.

  4. Students intending to work more than 20 hours per week must still be enrolled full time and making progress towards completion of the degree.  The best option for these students is to enroll in at least 7 credits of the internship course, and at least 5 other credits to maintain their full time enrollment.  A full year of full time CPT will make students ineligible for a year of Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completion of their program.  OISP does not encourage full time CPT.

  5. Students must have authorization on their I-20 (immigration document) before they can begin work.  Failure to have authorization will result in termination of the I-20 for unauthorized work and there is no reinstatement option for this termination reason.

Applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT):

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit of an F1 student visa as part of your educational experience in the U.S.  It allows international students work authorization in their major field of study for up to 12 months.  International students can apply for post-completion OPT 90 days before the last day of their program, and up to 60 days after the last day (the grace period).

You may request an OPT application packet from your International Student Advisor.

Graduate Students:

For graduate sduents, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) will be approved only for Summer Quarter. International students, on a F1 student visa, will need departmental approval prior to being authorized for CPT. The necessary information and signatures will be obtained by completion of the Learning Agreement which can be downloaded from the Career Services website.

For international graduate students looking to participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT), they will need to receive their department’s approval as part of the OPT application.  Students should be in their last quarter, have submitted their request for a folder check, and be on track for completion of their thesis. For Graduate submission deadlines, please see the School of Graduate Studies and Research Graduation Procedures and Deadlines page.

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