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Practical Training

International Admissions

Make sure you read the following information in its entirety.

Are you interested in gaining work experience in your field of study? There may be a solution for you called Practical Training. This webpage will discuss Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is for internships and other off-campus work opportunities that are an integral part of your degree program. The requirement for a CPT is that you cannot graduate without this work experience. Since most degree programs on campus do not require this internship experience, most F-1 students are ineligible for CPT. To know if you are eligible for CPT, ask your Academic Advisor if you are required an internship in your field of study in order to graduate/complete your studies. For more questions, ask the International Student Advisor. 

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Types and Application Timelines

There are two kinds of OPT, Pre-completion OPT and Post-completion OPT. Most MSSU students will choose to apply for the Post-completion OPT.

Definition of Completion Date

The completion date is generally established as the last day of the last month of the final term in which you will register (enroll) to complete academic requirements (e.g. December 31 for fall, May 31 for spring).

Pre-Completion OPT

Employment begins and ends before the completion of the academic program.

Earliest time to apply:

There are three types of Pre-completion OPT:

Type A: During the student’s annual vacation

Type B: While school is in session

Type C: After completion of all course requirements

Post-completion OPT

Employment begins after completion of academic program.

Earliest time to apply:

Deadline for Application to be received by USCIS:

Applying for Optional Practical Training (F-1 Students)

Process for OPT Applications

  1. Meet with your Academic Advisor to request an OPT recommendation letter (details listed below).
  2. Read the PowerPoint presentation, “Optional Practical Training (OPT), Understanding OPT Basics & Your Role
  3. After you have received the letter from the Academic Advisor and have read the PowerPoint presentation, schedule the OPT appointment with the International Student Advisor. OPT requests will not be taken on a “walk in” basis. To schedule an appointment go to and click on “Make an appointment”. Be prepared for this appointment to take an hour.
  4. Bring the letter and the final slide of the PowerPoint presentation to the International Student Advisor for review.
  5. During your OPT appointment, the advisor will send an OPT recommendation to SEVIS electronically and generate a new I-20. The OPT recommendation will be printed on page 3 of the new SEVIS I-20 and the end date of the I-20 (pg. 1, item 5) may be changed.
  6. When you receive your I-20, sign your name (page 1, item 11).
  7. Prepare the OPT application (Form I-765) and required documents to be sent to USCIS.
  8. Make a copy of the completed application and required documents sent to USCIS.
  9. Send your complete application and required documents to USCIS at:

USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

USCIS PO Box 21281 Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

USCIS Attn: AOS 1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S Suite 100 Phoenix, AZ 85034

  1. USCIS will send you a notice (Form I-797, Notice of Action) for the receipt of your I-765 EAD (OPT) application (takes 2 -3 weeks). Once you have received your receipt notice, you can track the status of your individual case using the case status feature on the USCIS Web Site. You may elect to receive email alerts about your case status from this Website.
  2. USCIS will approve or deny your OPT. If approved, they will mail your EAD to you (3 – 5 months processing time). Approximate times are listed on the cases status section of the USCIS Website

Documents Needed to Request a New I-20 with OPT Recommendation from the International Advisor

To apply for OPT you must schedule an appointment with the International Student Advisor. Bring the following documents to the OPT advising appointment:

Instructions for the Academic Advisor Letter

The academic advisor letter must meet these criteria:

Sample Academic Advisor Letter for OPT request

Submitting Your Request for an OPT I-20

Once you have complied all of the required documentation for an OPT I-20, you may submit your request to the Office of International Admissions. 

Sending your Completed OPT Application to USCIS

Once you’ve requested an OPT recommendation through the MSSU International Admissions Office and received your new I-20, you will need to prepare and submit the following list of items to USCIS:

Item 16 marked as follows: (c)(3)(a) for pre-completion OPT (beginning and finishing before the I-20 end date) (c)(3)(b) for post-completion OPT (beginning after the I-20 end date) (for most MSSU students) A legible signature in the designated location. Date the I-765 on the date you mail it.

Mailing to USCIS

Use the US Postal Service (USPS) to deliver to the PO Box address.

NOTE: The Office of International Admissions recommends that you submit a paper application via USPS with a tracking number, rather than using the “e-file” option as it creates additional requirements.

If you change your mind

If after your request an OPT I-20, you decide not to send your application to USCIS, you must notify us. Send an email to telling us that you plan to not apply for OPT and indicate the date you intend to leave the US (must be within 60 days of I-20 completion date). If you do not notify us, we will be unable to adjust your SEVIS record to accurately reflect your situation. You will also continue to be billed for health insurance.



(Most information has been taken from The International Center at Michigan University’s website during August & September 2013 at: In addition, information has been taken from the USCIS website found at