Employment Information for Advisors

Academic advisers have an important role to play when one of their international advisees wishes to obtain work authorization.

Learn more below about how to help your students apply for the different types of work authorization. ISSS Career Support made a series of videos for student support staff about work authorization requests. You can watch them all in the embedded playlist or go to YouTube to watch individual items.

For a more in-depth look, check out this webinar: 

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F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization that allows F-1 students to work in a job related to their major/field of study before they graduate. The majority of the time, CPT is used to work off-campus. However, CPT is also used for advanced graduate students who want to work full time on-campus during the academic year (Fall and Spring semesters).

Unlike Optional Practical Training, CPT authorization is for a specific employer and period of time. This means students must have found and been offered a position before applying for CPT.

Please see F-1 Student Curricular Practical Training for more information.

Consulting with Your Advisees

As an academic advisor, your international student advisees must consult with you prior to submitting a CPT application. ISSS has urged international students to discuss the following with you:

  • How the intended position and duties relate to their major
  • Whether their major requires students to do an off-campus job or internship before graduation. If yes, you should show the advisee a departmental website or document explaining this requirement; they will be required to submit it with their application.
  • What UMN class the student should take (examples include an Internship Reflection, CPT, or Directed Study) and whether your school/department requires students to enroll in the course concurrently with their internship
  • Who teaches that course. If you are the instructor, the student will ask you to complete and sign the Course Instructor Verification form.
  • What is the student's estimated date (month/year) of degree completion

Once your advisee submits their application in MyISSS, you will receive an email asking you to log in to MyISSS and review your advisee’s application, called a CPT Request. The link to each student’s request is unique, so you should not save or bookmark the link for future use.

Once you enter MyISSS, you will need to review the program information the student reported and the work they intend to engage in. The online form will ask you to verify their program information and whether the Curricular Practical Training they propose is related to their major and appropriate for their degree program and level.

Reminder: You play an important role with your advisees in this process. To qualify for CPT, international students must find an internship/employment related to their major/program of study. You are the expert on the student’s major, so ISSS relies heavily on your knowledge to determine if the student’s intended internship/employment offer fulfills this requirement. Please remember that we cannot approve your advisees’ requests until you enter MyISSS and approve or deny the request. Delays could result in a student not being able to start their position on the expected date.

Information for Course Instructors (including Advisors)

Your advisee may also ask you to complete the Course Instructor Verification form for their CPT application. This form is required for “Elective Internship/Employment CPT” — the type of CPT used when 1) the student’s major/program does not require all graduates to complete an internship/employment before graduation, and 2) the internship is not arranged through a co-op agreement.

For Elective Internships, international students are required to enroll in a course connected to the position. Some UMN programs have courses designed to meet this requirement while other programs allow students to arrange a Directed Study or Independent Study course. When helping your advisee identify the appropriate course, it is important to know:

  • The course must require employment with a specified beginning and end date.
  • There are not specific visa rules about when the course must be taken. ISSS will defer to requirements your program/department has regarding the course registration term.
  • The instructor of the student’s course must complete the Course Instructor Verification Form.
  • Many students elect to have their academic advisor as their course instructor for an Independent Study or Directed Study course. If so, the advisor must complete the form.

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional practical training (OPT) is work authorization that allows F-1 students to gain practical work experience in their field of study. There are three categories of OPT. 

Please see F-1 Student Optional Practical Training for more information. Most often, students will use OPT to work for one year beyond completion of their degree program, known as Post-Completion OPT.

Like CPT, if your international student advisee is applying for OPT, the student will be required to contact you to discuss their plans and select their accurate "degree completion date." You will then receive an email once the student submits their application asking you to log into MyISSS and review their application.

Understanding Degree Completion Date

As an academic advisor, you play an important role with your international student advisees in this process. It is essential that you help your advisees establish the accurate date of degree completion as inaccurate information will delay the student’s application. International students have a limited period in which they can file their OPT application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • For undergraduates: The "date of degree completion" is the last day of their final semester, also known as the End of Term.
  • For graduate/professional degree students with Plan C or coursework only: The "date of degree completion" is either 1) the last day of their final semester for which they have registered for the final required course(s) OR 2) the last day of their assistantship.
    • Please note: If the international student has registered for their final course(s) in the A Term, their date of degree completion is the last day of A Term.
  • For graduate/professional degree students who are required to complete a master's degree Plan A, Plan B, or a doctoral thesis: The "date of degree completion" is their choice of the following:
    • The day they complete all of their required classroom credits (including thesis credits)
    • The day they complete all their degree requirements, including thesis
    • The last day of the month when they complete all of their degree requirements
    • Please note: International students on F-1 visas may not postpone their degree completion date by waiting to submit their completed thesis. They must submit their thesis within a reasonable time once they complete their defense and subsequent thesis revisions.

J-1 Academic Training

Academic Training is work authorization that allows J-1 students to work in a job related to their field. There are four types of Academic Training. Academic Training must be an integral or critical part of the student's academic program.

Please see J-1 Academic Training for more information.

If your international student advisee is applying for Academic Training, you will be asked to write a letter in support of the student pursuing Academic Training.

In order for the student to be eligible, the advisor letter must include the following:

  • The goals and objectives
  • Location
  • The name and address of the training supervisor
  • Number of hours per week
  • Dates of training
  • How the training relates to the major field of study
  • Why it is an integral or critical part of the academic program

ISSS does not advise students to work full-time on Academic Training before completing their required coursework. If they wish to pursue this option and register for less than a full course of study, they must submit a letter to ISSS from their academic advisor along with the Reduced Course Load Form which also includes:

  • The student’s expected graduation date
  • That the Academic Training work is equivalent to a full-course of study
  • That the Academic Training work will not interfere with completing their program in a timely manner

If your advisee will remain a full-time student and pursue full-time academic training they must receive a letter from their academic advisor which also includes:

  • The student’s expected graduation date
  • That the Academic Training work will not interfere with completing their program in a timely manner

For post-doctoral training applicants, in addition to all of the above stated requirements the recommendation from the academic dean or advisor must state:

  • A description of the training aspect of the activity
  • That the student is doing “post-doctoral training”
  • “Research” is part of the activities performed
  • The activity is supervised by someone qualified to facilitate the training mission of the academic training activity
Last updated: April 5, 2024