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Practical Training
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Work Permission: Curricular Practical Training

As part of their curricula, some degree programs require students to seek an internship or acquire work experience related to their fields of study. If you are enrolled in one of these programs, you can work without obtaining explicit authorization from the INS.

All you need to do is secure a job that is related to your field of study, and bring your I-20, I-94, and passport to your international student advisor for work authorization. If all the requirements are satisfied, the advisor can endorse your I-20 ID, which you can use as a legal work permit for that particular job. The advisor will then copy your I-20, fill out an I-538 form, and send them both to the INS data processing center. Because curricular practical training does not require official approval from the INS, the process of obtaining the work authorization usually takes very little time.

You may qualify for curricular practical training under any of these conditions:

  • You are required to take an academic course with concurrent work experience or work which follows the course.
  • You are given course credit for employment - possibly even if the course is an elective.
    Ask your advisor about this.
  • You are not given credit for the employment, but the internship or practicum is a mandatory requirement for graduation.


If you work 12 or more months in full-time curricular practical training, you will NOT be eligible for optional practical training work after you graduate.

Eligibility requirements

  • The practical training work experience must be a requirement of your degree program.
  • You must have been in a valid F-1 or J-1 status for at least nine months.
    There may be some exceptions, so be sure to check with your advisor.
  • You must be registered as a full-time student (or the equivalent).
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