Comparison of CPT-OPT
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QuestionCPTOPT
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Who approves this work authorization?ISSSUSCIS
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What are the eligibility requirements?At the time of your application, you:
- Are in F-1 status
- Are a degree-seeking student
- Have studied at a U.S. college or university for at least 1 academic year
- Have received a job/internship offer to do work in your major
At the time of your application, you:
- Are in F-1 status
- Are a degree-seeking student or recently graduated
- Have studied at a U.S. college or university for at least 1 academic year
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Do I need this authorization to work on-campus?The work is full-time (more than 20 hours/week) during the fall or spring semester:
YES but only allowed for advanced graduate students

The work is part-time (20 hours/week or less) during the fall or spring semester:
NO

Review z.umn.edu/edu/fwork for more information about on-campus employment.
The work is before your date of degree completion:
- NO: See CPT and on-campus employment
The work is after your date of degree completion:
- YES
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Do I need this authorization to work off-campus?The work is before your date of degree completion:
- YES
The work is after your date of degree completion:
- See OPT
The work is before your date of degree completion:
- NO; See CPT
The work is after your date of degree completion:
- YES
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Do I need authorization BEFORE I begin working?Yes. ISSS authorization is a new I-20. You must have this I-20 in order to work. Yes. USCIS will send you a special card. You must have this card to work.
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What does the work authorization look like?ISSS issues you a new I-20. Page 2 states the work details (name and address of employer, dates of employment).USCIS issues you a card, commonly called an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card or OPT card.
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How much does it cost?There is no fee, but most CPT authorizations require you to enroll in a minimum of 1 course credit (Internship Reflection, CPT course, Independent Study, Directed Study, etc.).The USCIS fee is $410.
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How long does it take to receive the authorization?After you submit your CPT Request in MyISSS, your Academic Advisor must review and respond. ISSS takes up to 7 business days to issue you the I-20 with our CPT authorization on it.

Once you have a job offer, you should allow approximately 2 to 3 weeks to submit your CPT Request in MyISSS and pick up the I-20 with CPT authorization from ISSS.
USCIS is currently taking 1 to 5 months to process OPT applications.
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How can I get a Social Security Number?Take the following to the Social Security office:
- Passport
- I-94 record (print from cbp.gov/i94)
- I-20 with CPT authorization
- Job offer letter

Review z.umn.edu/ssnisss for more details
Take the following to the Social Security office:
- Passport
- I-94 record (print from cbp.gov/i94)
- I-20 with OPT authorization
- EAD card

Review z.umn.edu/ssnisss for more details
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Can I use this work authorization before I graduate?YesYes, but ISSS recommends F-1 students use CPT for work authorization prior to completion of your degree.
You are allowed 12 months of OPT per degree level. You may use a percentage of it before graduation, but it is deducted from the 12 month total.
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Can I use this work authorization after I graduate?NoYes
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What is the process to apply for this work authorization?1. Take and complete ISSS CPT Online Workshop. Save and print the Completion Certificate email.
2. Meet your Academic Adviser to discuss work opportunity
3. Download Course Instructor Verification form and meet your Course Instructor for signature
4. Fill out and submit the CPT Request in MyISSS
5. Pick up your new I-20 with CPT authorization
1. Take and complete ISSS OPT Online Workshop. Save and print the Completion Certificate email.
2. Meet your Academic Adviser to verify your date of degree completion
3. Fill out and submit the OPT Request in MyISSS
4. Collect all OPT application documents and copies
5. Pick up your new I-20 with OPT recommendation
6. Send OPT application documents to USCIS
7. Receive your EAD from USCIS
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Do I need a specific job offer before I apply for this work authorization?Yes, a job/internship/co-op offer is required.
CPT authorization is specific to an employer and for specific start and end dates.
No. You can apply for OPT before you receive a job offer.
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What is the maximum amount of authorization I may have?Part-time: unlimited
Full-time: 12 months. If you reach 12 months of full-time CPT, you will not be able to do OPT at this degree level.
12 months per degree level (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate) and an additional 24 months for STEM graduates.
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