F-1 Practical Training

Students must NOT pursue any off-campus employment without proper authorization. Authorization must be received BEFORE beginning any off-campus work, internship, or related employment activity.  Pursuing off-campus employment activity without proper authorization could jeopardize the ability to complete your MIT academic program and any future US visas. 
Students obtaining Post-Degree-Completion OPT MUST have their OPT approved, and EAD card in hand, to work on-campus at MIT or off-campus after their degree program completion. 


Students who have been in F-1 visa status for "one full academic year" (combination of Fall and Spring term) may be eligible to apply for employment related to their field of study through “practical training.” There are two kinds of Practical Training:

  1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  2. Optional Practical Training (OPT)

In addition, students who are currently on post-completion Optional Practical Training may be eligible for a STEM OPT Extension.

  1. STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT)

The average processing time for Curricular Practical Training is 2 weeks. The average processing time for Optional Practical Training is 3 to 4 months.

ISO Virtual Forum:  F-1 OPT/STEM OPT Extensions -- April 30, 2020
Forum Recording
Forum Presentation Slidedeck only


Off-Campus Employment (CPT, OPT, STEM OPT) Must be Directly Related to MIT Degree Field of Study
F-1 visa regulations require all authorized off-campus employment be "directly related to the student's major area of study", in addition to other criteria.  The U.S Department of Homeland Security reviews employment by international students with great scrutiny, and therefore all activity must be directly related to the student's major field of study for the degree earned at MIT. 
USDHS, on September 30, 2019, issued
Policy Guidance re-affirming this requirement and their additional focus on this issue, including a new requirement that ISO Advisors review employment under CPT/OPT/STEM OPT Extension to confirm it meets these requirements.  The ISO had seen additional scrutiny even before this Policy Guidance -- with student visa applications at US Embassies/Consulates, as well as applications for employment authorizations and Change of Status (including H-1B and Green Card) with USCIS, be delayed with questions about direct relationship to degree.  Students must take great care to be sure the position being pursued under CPT, OPT, or STEM OPT requires their specific degree program and is an application of that degree (not just general concepts or one course taken during a degree program).  The ISO addresses this requirement further in our Employment webpages and in our Employment Information Sessions.  Please feel free to contact your ISO Advisor if you have questions about an internship/training/employment being directly related to your degree field of study.  

(**NOTE: Students who have completed their degree, and are applying for Post-degree-completion OPT, MUST have their OPT approved, and EAD card in hand, to even work on-campus at MIT after their program completion date.)

OPT and STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

Students who are on an active and approved period of post-completion OPT and STEM OPT must fulfill reporting requirements.

  1. OPT Reporting Requirements
  2. STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

F-1 Employment Information Sessions

For F-1 students, ISO recommends that students first review the ISO website information on "On-Campus Work for F-1 and J-1 Students" and "Practical Training for F-1 Students (off-campus work/employment)". The ISO host weekly F-1 Employment Information Sessions, focusing on on-campus and off-campus employment eligibility and procedures (including Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training, STEM Optional Practical Training Extension), which students must attend in order to apply for an off-campus employment benefit. Students can sign up to attend an F-1 Employment Infomation Session by logging into iMIT, view the "Events" section on the right-hand side, and select an "F-1 Practical Training (OPT-CPT) Info Session" date, click on "Details", and then click "I'm Going" to register for the session.

NOTE: Due to the transition from on-campus to online/remote instruction at MIT, and requirement to limit in-person programming, the ISO is making available our "F-1 Practical Training (OPT-CPT) Information Session" presentation slides for students to review in place of attending an in-person session.  For students submitting an I-20 Request for OPT applications in iMIT, on the eform "Attending the OPT Information Session" under the scheduled session date type the date you completed your review of all of the presentation slides; and under ISO Advisor who conducted your workshop" please type "Online". 
The "F-1 Practical Training (OPT-CPT) Information Session" presentation slides are available


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