Off Campus Employment

There are two kinds of Practical Training which allow F-1 students to gain job experience in their field of study. Students must have been enrolled for one full academic year and maintained their F-1 status in order to apply.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT allows F-1 students to legally engage in an off-campus internship while receiving credits that count toward completion of their program of study. Students must submit an application for CPT to the CIE Office. Upon approval by a DSO, the student will receive an updated I-20 with a CPT endorsement on page 3. Students may not engage in any CPT employment without first receiving the updated I-20. Please note that students who engage in full-time CPT for twelve months or more prior to graduation will not be eligible for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT). For additional information please make an appointment in the CIE Office to speak with an advisor.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT allows students to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in their field of study. Students can apply for part-time Pre-Completion OPT or full-time Post-Completion OPT with USCIS. Students approved for Post-Completion OPT will receive an Employment Authorization Document that allows them to work in the United States for up to twelve (12) months. Students can apply for OPT 90 days before their program completion date or up to 60 days after their program end-date. Applications to USCIS can take up to 3 months to receive an approval notice so students should plan ahead and make sure to schedule an appointment with their immigration advisor at least one quarter before graduation.

How to Apply for OPT Guide

OPT Information Sheet

Severe Economic Hardship

Under special circumstances, USCIS will grant employment authorization to students who experienced severe economic hardship. F-1 students who have been enrolled in a degree or certificate program for 9 months or longer and who have experienced severe and unexpected financial hardship are eligible to apply. Please see an immigration advisor in the CIE Office for more information.

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South Seattle College: The Center for International Education

6000 16th Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98106 | Phone: +1-206-934-5360 | Fax: +1-206-934-5836 | | Office Hours: 8:00am - 4:30pm