Employment/OPT/CPT Guidelines

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

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has strict regulations regarding foreign student employment in the United States. 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.

On-Campus Jobs:

How to OBTAIN A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD

  1. Find a job on campus using the "On-Campus Employment" tab under the "My Info" tab on Aggie Access. Jobs are paid from “State” or “Federal” funding; international students are only allowed to work in State-funded positions. Jobs are limited to working 20 hours per week or less when school is in session; students 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. 
  2. The hiring department must write a Work Offer Letter. A sample letter can be found at  http://www.cameron.edu/admissions/international/ the employer should fill in the gray boxes, print of department letterhead, and sign.
  3. Bring the letter to the International Office and request an Authorization Letter from the DSO (Designated School Official) at the International Office.
  4.  Complete a SSN Application Form (available in International Office). The social security card will be mailed to the International Office.
  5. Take the Work Offer Letter, DSO Work Authorization Letter, SSN Application Form, Passport, I-20, and I-94 to:

 Social Security Administration Office

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

a) There are no appointments at the Social Security Office, clients are served on a "walk-in basis"

b) For transportation the red LATS bus

c) The Social Security Administrative Office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 9am to 3pm; Wednesday 9am to 12 pm.

d) Request a Receipt Notice and bring it to the International Office

Off-Campus Jobs:

  • Off-campus employment, whether part-time or full-time, is not authorized for F-1 students without DSO and DHS approval. 
  • The three types of work permits that students may apply for include Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training, or Employment Based on Extreme and Unforeseen 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. 

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 OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)

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)

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

Eligibility:

To be authorized for OPT, a student must apply to the DSO for recommendation and to USCIS for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document). F-1 students are eligible to apply for OPT when they have been in F-1 status for 2 consecutive semesters (fall & spring), 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.

Procedures for Applying:

  1. Attend an OPT Workshop (offered every semester, contact International Office for dates).
  2. May apply 90 days prior to the end of the program and up to 60 days after the program end date.
  3. Make an appointment with the International Office (580) 581-2838.

         Bring all of the following items with to the OPT appointment:

  • Completed Form G-1145 (http://www.uscis.gov/g-1145
  • Money Order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” for $380.00
  • Passport Photos (write in pencil your name and SEVIS ID number)
  • Completed Form I-765 (http://www.uscis.gov/i-765
  • Copy of I-20 with OPT Recommendation (available at appointment)
  • Copy of all I-20’s
  • Copy of Employment Authorization Documents (if applicable)
  • Copy of I-94
  • Copy of Passport (must be valid for 6 months)
  • Copy of Visa with Entry Stamps
  • Current Cameron University Transcript
  • Final Semester Form (attached)
  • Signed copy of the Summary of OPT Regulations (attached)
  • If you are planning to leave Lawton, please provide $8.00 so your OPT card can be mailed to you using certified mail.
  1. If you are eligible, the DSO will provide:
  • I-20 with OPT recommendation
  1. Approval and issuance of the EAD card usually takes 90 days, or more. If it is past the 90 days it is the student’s responsibility to contact USCIS using the SRC number on the Receipt Notice. The card will be mailed to the International Office and the students will be contacted to either pick up the card in person or request the document be mailed by certified mail.

This 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 phone, 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.

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CURRICULAR PRACTICAL TRAINING (CPT)

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).

Eligibility:

  • 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.

Academic Requirements:

  • Internship is related to the major field of study
  • One of the following must be met:
    • An internship is a required part of the degree program
    • Academic credit will be given for the internship and the credit will count toward degree requirements
    • An internship is required to complete thesis research

 Additional Information:

  • Student must submit documentation and receive I-20 authorizing CPT before the student begins
  • Student must complete CPT prior to the expected completion date on the I-20
  • Any amount of full-time CPT will affect the length or eligibility of OPT

 CPT Start and End Dates for each semester are as follows:

CPT Semester

Start Date

End Date

Part-time or Full-time

Fall

Day Fall semester begins

Day prior to Spring semester

Part-time (20 hours per week including on-campus employment)

Spring

Day Spring semester begins

Day prior to Summer semester

Part-time (20 hours per week including on-campus employment)

Summer

Day after Spring semester ends

Day prior to Fall semester

Part-time or Full-time

 

 

 

 

Procedures for Applying:

  1. Make an appointment with the International Office (580) 581-2838
         Bring all of the following items with you to your appointment:
  • Passport (must be valid for 6 months)
  • I-94
  • Current I-20 and all previous I-20’s
  • Current Cameron University 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.)
  • Class schedule with 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 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 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be notified through SEVIS.

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.

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OFF-CAMPUS EMPLOYMENT BASED ON UNFORESEEN ECONOMIC HARDSHIP

Eligibility:

  • No on-campus employment opportunities are sufficient or available
  • Severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond the student’s control:
    • 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 credit hours for undergraduate, 9 credit hours for graduate)
  • Acceptance of employment will not interfere with course of study
  • Student and DSO (Designated School Official) have an understanding that employment is unavailable or not sufficient through campus employment

Procedures for Applying:

  1. Make an appointment with the International Office (580.581.2838 or 580.591.8019)

         Bring the following items to your appointment:

  • Passport (must be valid 6 months in the future)
  • Official CU transcript
  • Class schedule for current semester
  • Current I-20 and all previous I-20s
  • I-94
  • 2 photos (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/photos/photo-examples.html) Do not trim photos, do not put fingerprints on photos, leave them in the folder)
  • 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
  • Money Order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” for $380.00

2. If you are eligible, the DSO will recommend Employment Authorization

3. Mail application

  1. If authorized, USCIS will issue you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card.
  2. If denied, the decision is unable to be appealed.

If approved, you cannot begin employment until you obtain the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. Approval may take up to 120 days of more. Employment is still limited to 20 hours per week during the semesters and more than 20 hours during official breaks in the school year. You cannot being employment until you obtain the EAD card. Employment authorization will be granted in one-year intervals up to the expected date of completion or graduation. You are able to reapply 120 days before the expiration date on your card. The reapplication procedure is the same as the initial application, including the fee. Severe economic hardship is automatically terminated if you transfer to another school.

This represents an explanation of the steps required to gain approval for Off-Campus Employment Based on Unforeseen Economic Hardship. Changes, exceptions, and/or additions to required documents do occur. After reading this form, direct your questions by phone, 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.

International Admissions Contact Info

Cameron University
International Office
2800 W Gore Blvd
Lawton, OK 73505

international@cameron.edu

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