Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined as “temporary employment for practical training directly related to a student’s major area of study.” The idea is that you can gain practical experience in your field of study to round out your academic experience before returning to your home country. Most students do pursue OPT after they graduate.
In most cases, OPT can be authorized for a maximum period of 12 months for each level of study. Granting of OPT is not automatic, although most applications are approved.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a benefit available after you have been in legal student status for one academic year. CPT is available only while a student is in F-1 status, before completion of educational objectives. The employment must be a part of your educational program or an internship. CPT is usually scheduled as part of your degree program. If you use 12 months or more of full time CPT, you will completely lose the Occupation Practical Training (OPT) benefit. Most students, therefore, plan to use no more than 360 days of full time CPT so they remain eligible for OPT.
At Concordia, curricular training is administered through Cooperative Education. If you are interested in participating in our Cooperative Education program, you may qualify by completing the steps listed below.
- Register with the Career Center.
- Complete at least your first year of college.
- Be a student in good standing. This means you must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher and maintain this average throughout your Co-op experience.
- Discuss a Co-op with your advisor. You must register for a minimum of 1.0 credit. Prevailing tuition fees are charged.
- Choose a Faculty Coordinator from the corresponding department to supervise your work. The faculty member you choose must agree to oversee your Co-op and approve the terms of your Learning Agreement.
- Make an appointment with Mr. Scott Ellingson in the Career Center.
- Record the CPT on your I-20 form at the Office of International Community. Your employer will typically need to see this notation before you may begin work. You may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location, and period approved and recorded on your I-20 form.
Severe Economic Hardship Employment
Under certain circumstances of severe economic necessity, an F-1 student may be eligible to apply for authorization to work off-campus. Economic necessity refers to financial problems caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control that arose after obtaining F-1 status. The application requires a fee, a recommendation from the International Student Adviser, supporting materials documenting the unforeseen nature of the economic hardship and the unavailability of sufficient employment on campus, a transcript, an I-765 form and the student's immigration documents. The processing of the application takes two to six months on average. If approved, the off-campus work authorization expires within one year, whereupon the student (if still eligible) may reapply. If approved, the employment is limited to 20 hours/week while school is in session but may be full-time during breaks.
Many students believe severe economic hardship applies to them, but actually its use is rather rare. Many students prefer to get employment authorization using CPT as it can be faster, less expensive, and more flexible to arrange.
Specifically, cases where this benefit is NOT available include:
- You did not have enough money to begin with and your plan has been to make it through one year and then apply for off-campus employment.
- One or both of your parents retire.
- Other family members wish to attend school in the U.S. so your family wishes to decrease the support to you.
- Annual tuition increases have increased cost.
- Adequate on-campus employment is available.
If the financial situation is too severe, part-time employment may not solve the problem. You and an ICA Assistant Director will need to look at all options available within the F-1 regulations. It is important for the ICA Assistant Director to understand the full scope of the financial necessity and the conditions that created the hardship.
To be eligible to apply, the student must:
- have completed at least one full academic year and be in good academic and legal standing,
- demonstrate that there is an unforeseen severe economic necessity beyond the student's control that arose after obtaining F-1 status,
- demonstrate that other employment opportunities are unavailable or are otherwise insufficient,
- establish that employment will not interfere with full-time study.
Please see an ICA Assistant Director, if you have questions or believe you qualify for this benefit.
Employment With International Organizations
This F-1 employment benefit allows F-1 students to work for recognized international organizations within the meaning of the International Organization Immunities Act. Qualifying organizations include the United Nations, World Bank, and World Health Organization. A complete list of qualifying organizations is published at 19 CFR 148.87. None of the qualifying organizations have offices in Moorhead or Fargo.
Special Student Relief
This benefit is available only to students from Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, or the Philippines who obtained visas before June 10, 1998.