Perhaps you've heard these acronyms thrown around, but you're still unclear what exactly they refer to. Oh man, oh gee, you've come to the right place.
What is CPT?
Simply put, think of CPT as a synonym for “internship authorization.” To qualify, the work you do must relate to your major. OISS will authorize you for CPT in SEVIS and print you a new Form I-20 on which the CPT information will be printed.
You will also need to coordinate with Career & Life Design to discuss your internship and ensure it can be taken for course credit. You must receive credit for your internship for it to qualify for CPT. This does not mean you can’t get paid, but no matter what you must receive credit. The application for internships for credit can be found on Handshake. Check out Career & Life Design for more information on searching for internships or to book an appointment with a Career Coach.
And what about OPT, huh?
You likely will not use Optional Practical Training (OPT) until after you graduate. It authorizes you to work for any employer, as long as the job relates to your major. All students are eligible for 12 months of OPT at each level of education. That’s twelve months after your bachelor’s, twelve after your master’s, and twelve after your Ph.D. Additionally, STEM students can receive a two-year extension for a total of 36 months of OPT. While it is possible to use OPT before you graduate, any amount of OPT you use will count toward the overall twelve months to which you are entitled.
OISS offers workshops on the OPT process designed for seniors, but juniors and anyone else who wants to get a handle on the information is welcome to attend. Be on the lookout for emails about these workshops.
Unfortunately, these days there can be a wait in approval times for OPT. We know that the waiting period can be extremely frustrating and cause a great deal of anxiety. OISS will contact you immediately once your OPT has been approved, but feel free to be in contact with Katie if you have questions during that time.