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Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) reminds U.S. Schools about the differences between CPT and OPT

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Pasricha & Patel Takeaways:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has published a reminder notice to U.S. schools and programs who enroll F-1 academic students and M-1 vocational students as well as their respective dependents about the distinctions between the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

SEVP clarifies that while it administers both the CPT and OPT programs, they each have separate requirements and they are not to be used interchangeably by schools and programs.

In particular, about the CPT program, SEVP explains that it is used as a required part of the degree program or study, which is defined by regulations as meaning: “internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum,” such as student teaching.

But OPT allows students to add to their learning with real-world experience, which usually comes after the student completes his/her program of study at the university.

SEVP also outlines CPT’s additional requirements such as:

  1. Must take place before the student’s program end date listed on the Form I-20;
  2. Must relate directly to the student’s major area of study and be an integral part of the school’s established curriculum.
  3. Can either be full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time.
  4. The student’s designated school official (DSO) must authorize CPT in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
  5. The student must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorized.
  6. By undertaking one year or more of full-time CPT, it eliminates the student’s OPT eligibility at the same educational level.
  7. Students can have more than one (1) CPT authorization at the same time. However, CPT authorization is required for EACH training opportunity.
  8. CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or letter from the employer.

Should readers have any questions about the differences between CPT vs. OPT, or should you have any questions in general about these programs, we encourage you to contact our office to schedule consultation.

And we also encourage readers to check back with us for any updates about the SEVP and any other immigration-related news or updates.