Employment/OPT/CPT Guidelines

If you are hiring an international student without a Social Security Number please click here:     CU Employer SSN Letter

To help defray expenses, you may want to work while you are a student at Cameron University.   The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  has strict regulations regarding foreign student employment in the U. S.  Please check the links below for more information. 


What CU International Students Need to Know About Working On-Campus or Off-Campus

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforces regulations concerning the employment of F-1 visa students. In order to help CU's F-1 students maintain their visa status, the CU International Office provides the following information to help you determine whether the job you are considering is one that is allowed by U.S. laws and regulations. Information in this document is subject to change. Please check with the International Office before embarking on ANY type of employment.

Definitions:
 

Full-time student Undergraduates completing 12 or more hours per semester and graduate students completing 9 or more hours per semester.
Full-time work Any time over 20 hours per week is considered by DHS to be "full-time" employment. You (not your employer) are responsible for ensuring that you do not work more than 20 hours per week unless you have DHS permission to obtain "full-time" employment.
On-campus job On-campus jobs are those performed on the school's premises and includes employment with the university bookstore and the cafeteria.

It does not include employment on the school's premises for a commercial firm that is not providing on-campus services for students, such as a construction site for a new building. If in doubt, check with the International Office.

Part-time work 20 hours or less per week 

On-Campus Jobs:

 Instructions for Cameron University International Students who want to

OBTAIN A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD

  1. Find a job on campus. On campus student positions are located under the “On Campus Employment”  tab on  Aggie Access. For student employment hiring procedures, go to www.cameron.edu/personnel/studentemployment . Students who already have a social security card can skip steps 2 – 7. You must have a valid social security number before any time card can be submitted for payment. You must be registered in SEVIS at least 10 days before applying for a social security card. You cannot be registered until you are enrolled and have a place to live. You can only work on the CU campus during your first year in the U.S. Jobs advertised on AggieAggie under “On-campus Student Employment.” Jobs are paid from “State” or “Federal” funding; you are only allowed to work in State-funded positions. You are limited to working 20 hours per week or less when school is in session; you may work more than 20 hours per week during Spring Break, Summer Break, and Winter Break, if the department has enough funding to permit it. Some students find it helpful to type a short resume. It should include your name, address and phone number in Lawton, work history, ability to read, write or speak other languages, and a paragraph about where you come from and your major at CU. Make sure you submit all requirements for the position.
  2. The hiring department must write a Work Offer Letter. A Sample Work Offer Letter and information for the employer are attached to these instructions. Once you are offered an employment position, direct them to our website. For the convenience of the employer, a form letter is available on our at: http://www.cameron.edu/admissions/international/  See “Forms,” then “Employer SSN Letter.” Employer should fill in the gray boxes, print of department letterhead, and sign. Bring the letter to the International Office.
  3. Bring the letter to the International Office and request an authorization Letter from the DSO (Designated School Official) at the Cameron University International Office (CUIO).
  4.  Complete a SSN Application Form (available in CUIO). This must be filled out neatly with the International Office address. Your card will be mailed to the International Office. We will notify you when it arrives.
  5. Take the Work Offer Letter, , DSO Work Authorization Letter, SSN Application Form, Passport,  I-20, I-94 and birth certificate to:

 

Social Security Administration Office

1610 SW Lee Blvd, Lawton (corner of 17th and Lee Blvd)

a)         You cannot make an appointment at the Social Security office; clients are served on a “walk-in basis” only. (For transportation, take the LATS red bus).

b)         You should go to the office during the hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 9am to 3pm; Wednesday 9am to 12 pm.

c)         Our representative is Mrs. Fritsch. Check in to let them know that you are applying for a social security card.

  1.  The day you apply, you will receive a receipt notice from the Social Security Office. Bring the notice to the International Office. We will make a copy and scan a copy to Human Resources. This will allow you to begin work. You should keep the original copy for your records. Wait about 7-10 working days for SSN card to arrive.
  2.  As soon as we receive the social security card, we will contact you to come in and complete paperwork. We will scan a copy of your card to Human Resources. You will need to check to see if Human Resources require any other documentation.

Off-Campus Jobs:

  • Off-campus employment, whether part-time or full-time, is not authorized for F-1 students without DSO and DHS approval. All students must be in status with DHS to work at any job, at any time. 
  • The three types of work permits that students may apply for include Curricular Practical Training (if the job is one for which you will be receiving academic credit and a grade) or Optional Practical Training, or Employment Based on Extreme and Unforeseen Economic Hardship
  • If you have been attending CU for at least 12 months and you have experienced unforeseen, extreme financial reversals, you may be eligible to apply for permission to work off-campus. Please ask the International Office for information on Employment Based on Extreme Economic Hardship.
  • Any off-campus employment not authorized by the CU International Office and DHS is unlawful and can result in immediate loss of status. 
This represents an explanation of steps to gain approval for F-1 student employment. Changes, exceptions, and/or additions to required documents and procedures do occur. After reading this information, direct your questions by note, e-mail, or appointment to the DSO. Remember, as with all DHS laws and regulations relating to F-1 student visa holders, the student is responsible for compliance. If you aren't sure -- ASK. We're here to help.

Top


Instructions for CU International Students who wish to obtain 
OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an interim final rule revising its regulations on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT), effective April 8, 2008. Initial SEVIS functionality for the 17-month STEM OPT extension was included in SEVIS release 5.8, implemented on April 18, 2008. There are still many practice and interpretive questions regarding the rule. Information provided will be updated as understanding of the rule increases.

Definition: Students who are maintaining their F-1 visa status may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) part-time during fall and spring semesters or full-time during summer vacation or after completion of their studies. OPT allows “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)(ii)

Three kinds of OPT can be identified:

  1. Pre-completion OPT
  2. Post-completion OPT
  3. 17-month extensions of post completion OPT for certain STEM degree holders.

The first two kinds of OPT are referred to as standard OPT (either pre-completion or standard post-completion), and the third kind of OPT as 17-month STEM OPT extension.

Note: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) impacts OPT only if the student exceeds 12 months full-time CPT. See CPT instructions for more information.

Post-completion OPT:

Post-completion OPT is OPT authorized to be worked after the student's program end date.

Each period of OPT requested requires a recommendation from the Designated School Official (DSO). At Cameron University, the primary DSO is the Coordinator of the International Office. In addition to this recommendation, photos, transcripts, photocopies of the I-94 and certain passport pages, completed forms I-765*, a new I-20*, and a fee of $380.00 are required to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

*You will complete the I-765 and get a new I-20 in the office during your appointment.

Pre-completion OPT:

Pre-completion OPT is OPT authorized to be worked 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.

Eligibility:

To be authorized for OPT, a student must apply to the DSO for recommendation and to USCIS for an EAD. F-1 students are eligible to apply for OPT when they have been in F-1 status for nine consecutive months, and have otherwise maintained their F-1 status.

The date for beginning post-completion OPT is determined by the date when requirements for the degree program have been met. This is called the “date of completion,” and is not necessarily the date of graduation. For instance, a student may need to take summer courses in order to complete a degree, but the same student is allowed to take part in the graduation ceremony in May. In this example, the student’s “date of completion” is the last day of classes in the summer semester, not the date of graduation in May.

The date of completion for graduate students is the completion date of all course requirements for the degree, excluding thesis or Comprehensive Exam. Graduate students are required to take the next available comprehensive exam date and be enrolled in at least one graduate course to be eligible to select the comprehensive exam date as the “date of completion.” Also, graduate students are not eligible to do a reduced course load in the “final semester” of study, if they plan to select the Comprehensive Exam date as the “date of completion,” and must be enrolled in a graduate-level course while preparing for the exam. If you choose a completion date that is NOT the end of the regular semester, be advised that all on-campus employment must end on your completion date.

The date of completion for undergraduate students is the last day of the semester in which they complete all course requirements.

Procedures for applying:

1.  Within 90 days prior to completion of studies, the following items should be presented to the DSO. You can apply for OPT up to 60 days after the completion of your course requirements. (Please make an appointment through the International Office at 591-8019 or 581-2838.)

BRING ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WITH YOU TO YOUR APPOINTMENT:

  • Current official CU transcript and a copy of your final degree check from the Registrar's Office.
  • Final semester form, signed by advisor and Registrar’s Office.
  • Your current I-20 and all previous I-20s
  • All previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD Cards)
  • Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months past the date of your appointment with the DSO.
  • I-94 (the white card called the “Arrival/Departure Record”).
  • Signed copy of “Summary of Regulations.”
  • 2 photos (see separate instructions; do not trim photos; do not put fingerprints on photos and leave them in the folder).
  • Have a preferred OPT start date. Date must be after date of completion and up to 60 days after date of completion.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE ALL OF THE ITEMS ABOVE, YOU CANNOT FILE AN APPLICATION FOR OPT. Please call the DSO to discuss replacement of any of these items that have been lost.

2.   If you are eligible, the DSO will recommend OPT on the new I-20.

3.   Approval and issuance of the EAD card may take 60-90 days, or more. OPT will begin the date the application is approved by BCIS. The dates on the EAD card will be the USCIS-approved dates for your period of authorized employment. NO OTHER DATES WILL BE VALID. The card will be mailed to you. The EAD card is the picture ID that should be used to complete the I-9 form required by an employer.

This handout represents an explanation of the steps required to gain approval for Optional Practical Training. Changes, exceptions, and/or additions to required documents do occur. After reading this form, direct your questions by note, e-mail, or appointment to the DSO. Remember, as with all U.S. laws and regulations relating to F-1 student visa holders, the student is responsible for compliance. If you aren’t sure -- ASK. We’re here to help.

  • Check, money order, or bank draft made payable to “Department of Homeland Security” in the amount of $380.00.

Top


Instructions for CU International Students who wish to obtain
CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT)

What is CPT?  The regulations state that curricular practical training must be "an integral part of an established curriculum." They define curricular practical training as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school."  8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)(i). The internship must either be required by the student’s degree program or the student must receive course credit for the internship. Please note that an internship is defined as supervised employment of limited duration, with education and experience being its primary function. Full-time, continuous, benefits-eligible employment is not appropriate for an internship.

 

Am I Eligible for CPT? 

To be eligible for CPT employment authorization, you must meet the following criteria:

  • F-1 students must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for two required semesters (fall and spring) before becoming eligible for CPT.
  • Student must be in good academic standing and currently enrolled full-time.

General Requirements:

  • The CPT enrollment must be either required for the degree or for credit and part of the degree program in one of these ways:
  • An internship is a required part of the degree program
  • An internship is not a required part of degree program, but academic credit will be given for the internship and the credit will count toward degree requirements.
  • An internship is required to complete thesis research.
  • The internship is listed in the course catalog.

Specific Requirements:

  • Student must complete CPT prior to the expected completion date on the I-20. An I-20 cannot be extended for the sole purpose of CPT.
  • CPT will be Part-time (no more than 20 hours per week, including any on campus employment) during the spring and fall semesters. Students can request full-time. (21 to 40 hours per week) CPT during the summer session.
  • 12 months of full-time CPT will result in ineligibility for optional practical training (OPT).
  • CPT start date must be within semester add/drop period. CPT internships will not be authorized with a start date prior to the first day of the semester, and student must apply before commencing to work. CPT authorization dates will be within semester start and end dates. Applicants must apply for CPT with an end date that matches the end date of the semester in which CPT is authorized.

How Do I Apply?

Bring the following items to the International Office (please make an appointment with the Designated School Official (DSO) by calling 581-2838 or 591-8019).

 Your valid passport. (Passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future.)

  • Your I-94
  • Your I-20
  • Your CU transcript. (You must have maintained full-time F-1 status the previous 9 months to be eligible. The only exception is for graduate students seeking training required by their degree program – these students might seek CPT opportunities during their first semester.)
  • A computer printout of your enrollment in the “internship” class.
  • A letter of offer from the employer on letterhead with employer’s name, location, phone number and contact person, beginning and ending dates of employment, number of hours per week, description of job duties, and indication that the position is an internship, and whether it is a paid or unpaid position.
  • A letter from your academic advisor, on CU letterhead, with the advisor’s signature that includes all the information indicated in the attached sample letter.

If the International Office determines that the student is eligible for curricular practical training, the authorization will be added to your I-20 and DHS will be notified through SEVIS.

What are the Employment Documents?

  • I-9: The curricular practical training authorization of the designated school official (international student advisor) satisfies the employment eligibility requirements of the I-9 form (column C, number 7).
  • Social Security and Medicare withholding: F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for 5 calendar years or less are not required to pay social security and Medicare taxes, nor are the employers required to pay taxes on their behalf.
  • Federal Income Tax Withholding: F-1 students are required to pay federal income tax on their employment income.

This handout represents an explanation of the procedure required to gain approval for Curricular Practical Training. Changes, exceptions, and/or additions to required documents do occur. Remember, as with all DHS laws and regulations relating to F-1 student visa holders, the student is responsible for compliance. If you are not sure – ASK. The International Office is here to help you.

Sample Letter from a Supervising Professor re: Curricular Practical Training

(Please print on department’s letterhead and please sign name in full)

Please include the following information in your Recommendation Letter and print it on departmental letterhead:

(Date)

Cameron University International Office

N Shepler 215

2800 W Gore Blvd

Lawton, OK  73505

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is written to recommend (name of student) for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) work authorization. The student’s Cameron ID is (######)

 The proposed CPT is necessary for (student) to participate in a (practicum, internship, field

placement, practicum, Co-Op or service experience) that is integral to the established

curriculum of the (degree program and major).

 Please describe here how the proposed work experience is integral to the curriculum.

 The student will be registered for (course name and course number / section) during the

(semester) for this work experience, and will earn (# of credits).

 The employer is (name of employer). The student will be working at (employer’s address,

including street, city, state and zip code).

 The dates of employment will be from (beginning date) to (ending date). The student is

expected to work (# of hours) per week during this time.

 The student will be evaluated by (e.g. written reports, journal, site visits, etc.).

 If further information is required, I can be reached at (phone number) or (e-mail address).

 Sincerely,


Professor / Academic Advisor’s Name

Title

2/12

Top


Instructions for CU International Students who wish to obtain 
OFF-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT BASED ON UNFORESEEN ECONOMIC HARDSHIP

Eligibility:

Use this checklist to determine your eligibility.

  • No on-campus employment opportunities are sufficient or available. Students wanting to apply for off-campus employment based on severe economic hardship will need to make a good faith effort to locate employment on campus.
  • Severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control may be characterized by:
  •  
    • Loss of financial aid and/or on-campus employment.
    • Fluctuations in value of currency or exchange rate.
    • Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs.
    • Unexpected changes in condition of student's source of support.
    • Medical bills.
    • Other substantial unexpected expenses.
  • F-1 status for one academic year (two full semesters).
  • Completion of a full course of study each semester (12 hrs undergrad, 9 hrs grad).
  • Acceptance of employment will not interfere with course of study.
  • Student and DSO have an understanding that employment is unavailable or not sufficient through campus employment.

Procedures: 

If you are eligible, please make an appointment with the DSO by calling 591-8019 or 581-2838. Please bring the following items to your appointment:
  • Passport valid for a minimum of 6 more months.
  • Official CU transcript.
  • Enrollment schedule (class schedule) for current semester.
  • Current original Form I-20 and all previous I-20's.
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (the white card.)
  • 2 photos (See photo specification sheet attached. DO NOT trim photos.]
  • Supporting materials such as letters documenting the unforeseen nature of the economic hardship; include a list of assets, income, and expenses.
  • Letter from you explaining your personal financial needs in detail. 
  • $380.00 fee (check, bank draft, or money order) made payable to DHS. (Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services).

The Waiting Begins:

The DSO will prepare the documents for mailing and then give the packet to you to be mailed.  USCIS will notify you of the decision.  If employment is authorized, USCIS will issue you an EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) for 20 hours per week during the semesters and more than 20 hours during official breaks in the school year [such as Spring Break, Winter Break, and Summer Break]. You cannot begin employment until you obtain the EAD card. You will receive a receipt notice within 30-45 days after mailing. Keep this receipt for inquiry about your application. Approval of the EAD card may take up to 120 days. When you receive your card, bring it to the DSO so that a copy can be made for your file. Do not throw away the paper that comes with the card. The EAD card is the picture ID that should be used to complete the I-9 form required by a US employer. Employment authorization will be granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion or graduation. (You can reapply 120 days before the expiration date on your card expires. Remember that the reapplication procedure is the same as the initial application, including the fee.) 

If USCIS denies the application, the decision may not be appealed. Therefore, it is very important that you submit substantial evidence of unforeseen and severe financial hardship. 

Severe economic hardship is automatically terminated when you transfer from one school to another. This is due to the requirement that all students must provide adequate resources to meet the expenses of studying at the school before an I-20 can be issued. 

This handout represents an explanation of steps to gain approval for Off-Campus Employment Based on Unforeseen Economic Hardship. Changes, exceptions, and/or additions to required documents and procedures do occur. After reading this form, direct your questions by note, e-mail, or appointment to the DSO. Remember, as with all USCIS laws and regulations relating to F-1 student visa holders, the student is responsible for compliance. If you aren't sure -- ASK. We're here to help.

International Admissions Contact Info

Cameron University
International Office
2800 W Gore, Lawton,
Oklahoma, 73505, USA
international@cameron.edu