Skip Navigation

There are different types of employment opportunities that are available for F-1 students. All students are able to work on campus jobs (up to 20 hours per week) but CPT and OPT have different requirements.

If you are not sure, please ask a DSO about your employment opportunity and we can advise if it is acceptable or if you would violate your status. A good rule to go by is if the job is off campus, you must have a special I-20 in order to work.

The Career Center at Indiana Tech processes all CPT and OPT applications and can help you navigate this. Their contact information is found here.

NOTE: CPT and OPT requests by appointment only. You can schedule one or email your question to CareerCenter@indianatech.edu or by phone at 260-422-5561 ext. 2217.

On-Campus

An F-1 visa allows students to work twenty (20) hours per week during a semester, and students are allowed to work full time (40 hrs.) during summer and winter break. There are no extra authorizations needed on the I-20 if the student is working on-campus.

Steps to On-Campus Employment

  1. Search for Job
    Available positions are posted on Indiana Tech’s student jobs page. Apply for any position you are interested in as long as they are on-campus or food services.

    • International students are not eligible for work-study job positions.
  2. Interview and Follow Up
    If the department is interested, they will contact you for an interview. After the interview is complete, it is proper to follow up with the department you had applied for the job after a week or two. This way you know whether you are selected so you can start the next step.
  3. Obtain Letter of Employment
    Once you get a position, your supervisor will inform the human resources department to issue a letter of employment. You need this letter for the next step.
  4. Obtain Social Security Number
    A Social Security number is required for working in the U.S. Please see the Social Security Number section for more information.

    • If you already have an SSN, skip to the next step.
  5. Complete the Paycom Onboarding Information
    Once you have notified your supervisor and human resources regarding your Social Security Number, HR will send you the Paycom onboarding information. This must be completed before you can start working.

 

Note: Off-Campus employment other than CPT and OPT is prohibited. If you are having severe economic hardship, please discuss with the International Services staff for options.

 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

F-1 students who have employment or internships as part of their degree requirement must be authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The Career Center handles all CPT applications and training for interested students.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is authorized off-campus employment which is integral to your major and the experience must be part of your curriculum. CPT is a type of internship or off-campus employment permission for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing a program of study in the U.S. It allows students to gain experience in their field of study and is directly connected to the program’s curriculum.  CPT is only available prior to the completion of your degree program. You must have a job offer at the time of your CPT application. CPT employment may not delay completion of your academic program.

NOTE: Per Department of Homeland Security, a student using CPT must be monitored by academics during the process. You must be enrolled in the CPT course while working. We cannot delay the course to another semester, nor can we waive the course requirement. There are zero exceptions to this.

 

What is the CPT process?

After you have a job offer and have verified that you are eligible for CPT, you will need to stop by the Career Center and pick up the CPT packet. Once you have that, you will want to do the following in this order:

  • Complete the first section of the Internship Authorization Form.
  • Schedule a meeting with your academic advisor to go over the form and complete the remaining sections of the form.
  • Gather all required documents needed to apply (see Documents Needed to Apply section of this packet)
  • Schedule an appointment with the Career Center to review all documents
  • Submit all completed documents to Career Center or careercenter@indianatech.edu
  • Pick up your new I-20 from the Career Center (this will take approximately 3-5 business days- you will receive an email notification once your I-20 is available for pick-up)

You will only be permitted to work during the dates listed on your I-20. If you and your employer wish to extend your I-20, you must resubmit the paperwork, be re-enrolled in the course and obtain a new I-20 listing the new dates.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible you must meet all the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in a major that has an internship course built into the curriculum
  • Be in lawful F-1 status
  • Have approved health insurance
  • Have a job/internship offer
  • Be enrolled full-time for one full academic year
    • 9 credit hours for graduate students
    • 12 credit hours for undergraduates

What documents do I need to apply for CPT?

You will need to submit the following items:

  • CPT Request Form (found in Career Center)
  • Copy of the job offer letter from your employer with the following information:
    • Written on the company’s letterhead
    • Addressed to you
    • Include the job title
    • Include the job description
    • Specify the employment address
    • State if the position is full- or part-time (number of hours included)
    • Specify the exact dates of employment
  • Copy of your current I-20

What are the academic requirements?

You must maintain following requirements while working CPT:

  • Registration in the CPT/Internship specific course
  • Complete continuing update reports with your internship professor throughout your CPT experience as required
  • Complete the final project and submit by the final date of your CPT
  • Maintain above a 3.0 GPA

When is the CPT application due date?

CPT applications must be submitted to the Career Center two weeks before the start of the semester. You can apply in spring, summer, or fall. HOWEVER, CPT cannot be your first or last class for the semester.

Example: if your classes start January 10th and end May 10th, you can only work January 11th to May 9th.

Late applications for CPT will not be accepted. If you do not apply in enough time, you will have to delay your internship. Please plan accordingly.

How many hours can I work?

During the semester, you can only work 20 hours or less per week. During the summer breaks, you can work over 20 hours.

Part-Time CPT: Employment under 20 hours per week is considered part-time. There is no limitation to the length of time you can participate in part-time CPT however you must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status (including the CPT course)

Full-Time CPT: (summer semester only) Employment over 20 hours per week is considered full-time. Generally, we advise full-time CPT from May 15 – August 15 however it depends on the end date of spring classes and the start date for fall.

Please be aware that 12 months or more of full-time CPT will disqualify you from being eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Remember:

  • You cannot begin work until you have receive your new I-20 with authorized work dates. 
  • Do NOT work without your I-20 having the accurate start and end dates. You will have to re-apply for CPT each semester.
  • We cannot update your I-20 until you are enrolled in the course.
  • You cannot submit your CPT application after the semester starts. There are no mid-semester joining of the class.
  • Each semester you must renew your CPT application and I-20.
  • If you work without the CPT added to your I-20, you are violating your F-1 status.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is an opportunity to gain work experience to complement your academic program.

  • Students must complete one full academic year of study before being eligible for Optional Practical Training. There are two types: Pre-Completion OPT or Post-Completion OPT. All F-1 students are eligible for one year (12 months) of practical training for each degree level obtained.
    • Note: Indiana Tech only allows for Post-Completion OPT.
  • The Department of Homeland Security must receive your application for Optional Practical Training no later than the 60th day following your graduation date, or they will not authorize your practical training.
  • Post-Completion OPT can be applied for 90 days before you graduate. Your graduation date is considered to be the date of your last class at Indiana Tech. Do not apply for OPT until you are positive you will be graduating.
  • Please plan ahead. The application process at the DHS usually takes a minimum of ninety (90) days. We highly suggest applying as soon as you are eligible in order to have the best opportunity.
  • Once your EAD arrives and your OPT is approved, you will have 90 days from the start date to find employment related to your degree.
  • You must pick up the OPT packet available in the Career Center and meet with an authorized DSO (Career Center) to file your paperwork.
  • Any questions about the process can be asked to a DSO at Indiana Tech or viewed on the USCIS webpage or the ICE website.

Periods of Unemployment During OPT

DHS regulations currently define the period of an F-1 student’s valid status as the time the student is pursuing a full course of study or is engaged in authorized post-completion Optional Practical Training, plus a sixty (60) day grace period. The DHS has established an aggregate maximum period of allowed unemployment of ninety (90) days for students on 12-month OPT. Students who qualify for and receive the 24-month OPT extension (only for STEM degrees and employment) can be unemployed for an aggregate of 150 days. This particular part of the rule also puts the responsibility on students to keep the university up to date with the name and address of your OPT employer. Unless we have the SEVIS system updated with the name and address of your employer, you will be accumulating unemployment time in SEVIS. Once you have reached the 90 or 150 day maximum, your F-1 status will be terminated. Please notify the university with the name and address of your employer once employment is secured. If you do not secure employment within the 90 day period beginning with the start date on your OPT card, you will be expected to depart the U.S. or otherwise take steps to maintain proper F-1 status (get a new I-20 to start a new program of study). Volunteer (unpaid) employment does not accrue unemployment time provided the volunteer work is for twenty (20) hours per week or more.

OPT Eligibility

An F-1 student who has attended an SEVP-certified college, university, conservatory, or seminary on a full-time basis for at least one academic year may be authorized for up to 12 months of OPT per education level. However, F-1 students who have one year or more of full-time curricular practical training (CPT) are not eligible for OPT for that degree.

Pre-completion OPT

Indiana Tech does not authorize pre-completion OPT. Pre-completion OPT is OPT authorized to be engaged in before the student’s program end date. Students with approved pre-completion OPT may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students who are eligible to register for the next term and who plan to do so may have approval to work full-time when school is not in session.

Post-completion OPT

Post-completion OPT is OPT authorized to be engaged in after the student’s program end date (i.e. graduation).

Post-completion OPT Restrictions

  • Apply no more than 90 days before graduation and no more than 60 days after graduation.
  • Your application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of getting the new I-20.
  • A student cannot have a requested start date that is more than 60 days past the student’s
    program end date.
  • The requested end date cannot be more than 12 months after the requested start date. The end date may be sooner if the student has less than 12 months of OPT left at the current education level or the student wishes to retain a period of OPT for pre-or post-completion OPT for another degree at the same education level.

How to Apply for Post-Completion OPT

  1. Send an email request to CareerCenter@IndianaTech.edu stating that you want to apply for OPT.
    1. You can apply 90 days before you graduate or 60 days after you graduate. The earlier you apply, the better. You do not need a job to submit the application.
    2. Allow 3 – 5 business days for the request to be processed.
    3. NOTE: you must file the I-765 within 30 days of receiving your updated I-20 or your request will be denied. If something changes within those 30 days, let the DSO know to cancel your request to save your OPT.
      1. Applying for OPT after the 30 days will result in an automatic denial and losing your OPT opportunity.
  2. Once you have the updated I-20, you must file the Form I-765 application
    1. Fee is $410
    2. Documents Needed (all PDF except passport photo)
      1. 2×2 Photo (passport size)
        1. You can check your passport size here: https://tsg.phototool.state.gov/photo 
      2. Form I-94
      3. Employment Authorization Document
        1. Either a previously issued EAD or copy of your passport identification page
      4. Previously authorized CPT or OPT
        1. This is the recommendation I-20 with OPT request listed on page 2
          1. This is the I-20 from within the last 90 days (from Step 1)
      5. Form I-20
        1. This is any or all previously issued I-20s that you have received in the past.
    3. Instructions to complete:
      1. Create an account with my.uscis.gov (if you don’t yet have one)
      2. Once logged on, go to “My Account”
      3. Select “File A Form”
      4. Find the I-765
      5. Start Form
        1. Eligibility Categories are:
          1. First OPT Request: Post-Completion OPT
          2. STEM Extension (only available after first year OPT)
      6. Fill out everything and submit
  3. Wait for USCIS to review and make their decision.
  4. If approved, you will receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in the mail.
    1. You cannot start working until you receive the EAD though we suggest looking for jobs during this time.
    2. Once you receive your EAD, you will have 90 days to find a job or you will be out of status.
  5. When you have accepted a job, you will need to send the following via email:
    1. Job Offer Letter (signed)
    2. Job Description
    3. Start Date

Deadlines or Cancelling Your OPT

Once you receive your OPT Recommendation I-20, you must submit the I-765 application within 30 days or request us to cancel your I-20. If you do not apply or cancel the I-20 within those 30 days, you will lose your OPT opportunity.

Alternatively, if you file your I-765, we cannot cancel your request or you will lose your OPT opportunity.

Finding a Job

It is the student’s responsibility to find employment while on OPT. You are permitted to have 90 total days of unemployment while on OPT.  The Career Center can help you find jobs or give guidance during your search.

While you can use a temporary staffing agency, if you are planning on using STEM Extension OPT, you may face troubles in qualifying for the extension. In order to qualify, the staffing agency would have to be an e-verify participating company, be paying you, and be handling all training.

Travel on OPT

While your OPT application is pending, travelling internationally is difficult. While allowed, you can risk your status as it is more difficult to navigate the border. We do not suggest travelling from the date you submit the I-765 application to when you start working.

If you are traveling while on OPT, please reach out to an Indiana Tech DSO for further instructions.

STEM Extension OPT

In addition, students who major in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for twenty-four (24) additional months of Optional Practical Training if their employer participates in the E-verify employment verification program.

The STEM extension is available only for students who have a qualifying degree and who have completed the first 12 months of OPT.

Note: While you can use a temporary staffing agency, if you are planning on using STEM Extension OPT, you may face troubles in qualifying for the extension. In order to qualify, the staffing agency would have to be an e-verify participating company, be paying you, and be handling all training.  We highly suggest not using this for STEM students.

The earlier you apply, the better in this situation. The process is as follows:

  1. Request an extension from Indiana Tech
    1. This should be done 3 months (90 days) before your OPT end date (you cannot apply for this after your EAD end date)
    2. Send an email (CareerCenter@indianatech.edu) with pages 1 – 4 completed of the I-983
      1. Evaluation on page 5 is first due at the 12 month of STEM OPT
      2. Page 1 asks for the DSO contact information, which should be listed as below:
        1. Sharmila Chowdhury; InternationalServices@IndianaTech.edu
  2. Receive Updated I-20
    1. NOTE: you must file the I-765 within 30 days of receiving your updated I-20 or your request will be denied. If something changes within those 30 days, let the DSO know to cancel your request to save your OPT.
      1. Applying for OPT after the 30 days will result in an automatic denial and losing your OPT opportunity.
  3. Submit I-765 Application
    1. Login to your my.uscis.gov account
    2. Select My Account then File a Form Online
    3. Find I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
    4. Select “STEM Extension” for your eligibility category
  4. Complete the application and submit the payment
    1. Fee is $410
    2. Documents Needed (all PDF except passport photo)
      1. 2×2 Photo (passport size)
        1. You can check your photo size here: https://tsg.phototool.state.gov/photo
      2. Form I-94
      3. Employment Authorization Document
        1. This should be your EAD card from your original OPT.
      4. Form I-20 with STEM OPT Recommendation listed
      5. College Degree
      6. Institution Accreditation
  5. Continue working until you receive your USCIS extension decision.
    1. Students can work for 180 days passed the original OPT end date or until they have the STEM OPT final decision. If not granted the extension, the student must immediately leave the country.  

Additional questions can be answered by a DSO at Indiana Tech or on the USCIS website or the ICE website.

Please note that STEM Extensions are not a guarantee and must be approved by USCIS.

General OPT Reporting

Students are required to report any of the following changes to the DSO at Indiana Tech within 10 days:

  • Updates to student’s legal name, address, or email
  • Changes in employment status (i.e. if you lost your job or are not working)
  • Any updates to employer. These must include the following:
    • Employer Name
    • Employer EIN
    • Job Title
    • Start Date
    • Hours per week (full or part time)
    • Supervisor Contact Info (name, phone, email)
    • Address of Employment
    • Brief job description
    • STEM Extensions – must provide an updated I-983 (pg 1 – 4) with any employment changes
    • Page 1 asks for the DSO contact information, which should be listed as below:
      1. Sharmila Chowdhury; CareerCenter@IndianaTech.edu

 

All changes should be sent to CareerCenterCareerCenter@indianatech.edu

Employment Updates on CPT or OPT

If you are changing your employer while on CPT or OPT, you must send the new information to the DSO at Indiana Tech in order for us to update your SEVIS record. This is due within 10 days of the change and must be sent to CareerCenter@indianatech.edu.

You will need to provide us with the following information:

  1. Employer Name
  2. Employer EIN
  3. Job Title
  4. Start Date
  5. Hours per week (full or part time)
  6. Supervisor Contact Info (name, phone, email)
  7. Address of Employment
  8. Brief job description
  9. STEM Extension OPT Students – must provide an updated I-983 (pg 1 – 4) with any employment changes.
    1. Page 1 asks for the DSO contact information, which should be listed as below:
      1. Sharmila Chowdhury; CareerCenter@IndianaTech.edu

 

If you find yourself unemployed at any point during your OPT, you must notify a DSO. Please remember you are only granted 90 days of unemployment for your entire OPT timeframe.

STEM OPT Reporting

Once you are on your STEM OPT Extension, you will be required to report into the DSO at Indiana Tech. All documents should be submitted to CareerCenter@indianatech.edu at least 5 days prior to the due date to ensure they are updated on time.

These are due at various times throughout your OPT, which have been laid out below:

ActivityExplanationRequired DocumentsTimeline (due dates)
Validation ReportsA 6-, 12- and 18-month validation report to the DSO that confirms the student’s name, address, employer name and address, and employment status are correct.Email confirming your address and employment information (employer, position, address)
  • 6 months after start of STEM OPT Extension
  • 12 months after start of STEM OPT Extension
  • 18 months after start of STEM OPT Extension
  • 24 months after the start of STEM OPT Extension
Self-EvaluationsSelf-evaluations are submitted to the DSO at the end of any employment and at the 12- and 24-month marks from the start date of the STEM extension. A concluding self-evaluation occurs at the end of any period of employment, regardless of its duration, for example; 14 months.Completed copy of Form I-983 (entire form; pages 1 – 5)
  • 12 months after STEM OPT start date  (midway)
  • 24 months after STEM OPT start date (final)
  • At conclusion of training opportunity (final; usually at 24 months, but possible any time during the period of authorized employment)
General ReportingAny changes in the student’s legal name, address, employer, or employment status within 10 days of the change.Email listing the updated information.
  • Within 10 days of the change

Note: Any time you change your job, you must submit a brand new I-983.

Helpful Links

While navigating this process, Indiana Tech is here to help. Should you have any questions, please let us know your question in an email (ideally) or stopping by the office.

There are also helpful resources online that were created by the government to help in the process, which are linked below: