What is the difference between OPT and CPT?

You cannot work while you are here in the U.S. on a student visa unless you are authorized to do so under OPT or CPT. OPT and CPT are both employment authorizations for students on the F-1 Visa.

  • CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training:
    • For undergraduate students;
    • Full-time or part-time;
    • Requires a signed agreement between student and employer;
    • Requires enrollment in an internship class with on-the-job training; 
    • The training must relate directly to the student’s area of study, be part of the program of study; and
    • Fee if in summer or winter.
  • OPT stands for Optional Practical Training:
    • Students are allowed to work for 1 year after they have completed at least one year of their education;
    • For undergraduate and graduate students;
    • No fee except for filing fee;
    • Must relate to course of study but is not integral; and
    • Can only work 20 hours a week (part-time) while school is in session.

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