Written By: Jeanne Pizarro, International Student & Scholar Advisor, DSO/ARO
Yes! International students must work with their OISS Advisor in order to apply for work authorization so that they are legal to work off campus.
- CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training. F-1 students can apply for CPT authorization to do work that is an integral part of their curriculum. Because CPT is curricular, OISS works together with the different schools and programs at WashU to determine the parameters a job must meet in order to qualify for CPT for a given program. Once your school signs off on the CPT application and you are registered for the CPT course, your OISS Advisor will process the CPT authorization on your I-20. There are no fees to apply for CPT. It takes about three business days for OISS to process a CPT I-20. Students can begin working when they receive the email with their electronic signed CPT I-20 from their OISS Advisor. (The US government now allows electronic transmission of Form I-20 signed by DSOs/OISS Advisors.)
- OPT stands for Optional Practical Training. OPT is a benefit of the F-1 visa, which allows students to work in the US for 12 months per degree level. Students can apply for Pre-Completion OPT, to work in their field of study before graduation and/or Post-Completion OPT, to work in their field of study after graduation. (Students in qualifying STEM fields can also apply for the 24-month STEM OPT Extension during the last 90 days of their Post-Completion OPT authorization period.) The OPT application process begins with a required OPT Workshop, where students learn how to maintain their F-1 status while on OPT and receive the OPT application materials. Students will work closely with their OISS Advisor to prepare the OPT application, which is submitted to the USCIS. There are fees to apply for OPT. It takes approximately 3 months for USCIS to process OPT Applications. Students can only begin working after they receive their valid OPT card/Employment Authorization Document in the mail from USCIS.
- AT stands for Academic Training. AT is a work authorization benefit that allows J-1 students to work in their field of study. AT cannot be authorized to work longer than the length of their J-1 academic program. For example, a J-1 exchange student who is here for 1 semester might be authorized for 4 months of AT. Other than PhD students, the maximum time allowed for AT is 18 months. Students must have a paid job offer and obtain approval from their academic program in order to apply for OPT. There is no fee to apply, but students must provide financial documentation for living expenses for the entirety of their AT authorization period. OISS Advisors work closely with J-1 students on the application process and issue an updated DS-2019 and AT authorization. Students can begin working after they pick up the signed paper DS-2019 and AT authorization from the OISS in DUC 330. (The Academic Exchange Visitor Program prohibits electronic transfer of Form DS-2019.)
If you have a job offer or internship, reach out to your OISS Advisor to obtain authorization before you start working.