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Employment as an International Student 

As a non-immigrant on an F –1 student visa, in the United States, you may have the option to engage in practical training during your program or after it ends. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning at SUNY New Paltz. There are two types of practical training opportunities available for F-1 students: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT). Both CPT, and OPT are a benefit of maintaining your F-1 status. While on CPT or OPT, students are still in F-1student status, and the International Student Services Office continues to provide F-1 student status support while completing their practical training opportunity.   

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training 


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment authorization for an off-campus opportunity, which may or may not be required for a student’s program of study.


  • CPT employment authorization is required for any off-campus employment opportunity such as Fieldwork, Practicum, Student Teaching, Internship, etc;
  • CPT authorization must be entered into the student’s F-1 immigration record BEFORE any off-campus opportunity can begin;
  • When completing CPT, students are permitted to work only from the specified beginning date through the specified ending date; and,
  • CPT can be paid or unpaid.

It is very common for student at SUNY New Paltz to complete CPT in their final year of study.   

  • Students can work anywhere in the US during their approved period of OPT; and,  
  • To change CPT employers, a student must submit a new request to the International Student Services Office. 


In order to qualify for CPT, students must be:  

  • A current international student in F-1 student status;  
  • Matriculated in a degree program; 
  • Enrolled full-time for one full academic year (two consecutive academic semesters), exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in curricular practical training; 
  • Have an offer of employment/placement directly related to their major field of study; and,  
  • Approval from their academic department.    

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training 


Optional Practical Training (OPT) is 12 months of authorized off-campus employment directly related to their major field of study that can be used during their studies or after completion of their degree. 


  • Students must submit a complete application for employment authorization to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), before the end of their grace period;  
  • If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and the student must not begin working before the start date on the EAD; 
  • OPT participants work a minimum of 20 hours (full-time) to be considered employed; and,  
  • OPT can be paid or unpaid.


It is most common for student at SUNY New Paltz to complete OPT after completion of their degree/program of study.   

  • Students can work anywhere in the US during their approved period of OPT; and, 
  • Student may also change employers during their OPT period but must update International Student Programs with their new employer’s name and address. 



In order to qualify for OPT, students must: 

  • Have been enrolled full time for at least one academic year in a degree program and be in good standing in F-1 status;  
  • Undergraduate students may begin OPT once they have completed all requirements towards the degree;  
  • Graduate students may begin OPT either once they have completed all coursework requirements for the degree except for the thesis or comprehensive exams, or once all requirements for the degree are complete; and,  
  • Students are eligible for a maximum of 12 months of OPT employment for each degree level (associate's, bachelor's, master's, PhD.).  

24 Month STEM OPT Extension

24 Month STEM OPT Extension 


Students who graduate in certain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors might be eligible to extend their 12-month Optional Practical Training period for an additional 24 months. 

  • STEM OPT extensions are eligible to F-1 students who are currently in a period of post-completion OPT once per degree level.   
  • A student may participate twice in the STEM OPT extension over the course of their F-1 academic career.   
  • Students completing STEM OPT do have additional reporting responsibilities.   
  • Which include: submitting necessary training plans, student evaluation, as well as validation of employment every 6 months.

Students must submit an application for STEM extension to USCIS, and it must be received by USCIS before the current Post-Completion OPT expires.  

  • Students may work up to 180 days after their OPT expiration date, if they filed the STEM OPT application on time; and,    
  • STEM OPT students must report change in employment, and validation of STEM OPT employment every 6 months, to the International Student Programs Office. 


In order to qualify for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student participating in an initial period of post-completion OPT must:  

  • Have earned qualifying STEM degree (STEM Designated Degree Program list);  
  • Work for an employer that is enrolled in USCIS's E-Verify employment eligibility verification program;   
  • Work for a STEM OPT employer that provides the student with formal training and learning objectives, as indicated on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Form I-983;
  • Have not exceed the 90 days unemployment during Post-Completion OPT; 
  • Be related to their STEM major/ field of study; and, 
  • Must work both a minimum of 20 hours (full-time) in a paid position for an e-verify employer.  


Employment Workshops (CPT and OPT)

International Student Program offers a number of employment
 workshops ever semester. Any F-1 international students
interested in the applying for Practical Training
opportunity must attend a workshop.  


Alumni Testimonials

We are excited to share with you soon
SUNY New Paltz International Student Alumni Testimonials


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