January 13, 2012

CPT / INTERNSHIP: Must read Eligibility Criteria and Documentation

On-Campus Student Jobs

On-campus jobs in USA universities can be categorized into 2 categories.
1. Federal work study option.(Only for US citizens)
2. Non-work study option.(For International students ie Non-US citizens)

So, you are an International student you are eligible only for the Non-work study job positions. There are mainly four kinds of Non-work study job options.

A. Research Assistantship(RA)
B. Teaching Assistantship.(TA)
C. Graduate Assistantship.(GA)
D. A paid job.

NOTE: The following information provided in this website may not be applicable to all the universities and may vary from one university to another. This article goal is give an overview on general practice which universities follow. We recommend students to visit their  respective universities for detailed information. 

A. Research Assistantship(RA): The role of an RA is to work under a professor to assist with his research. You need apply for this in your own department. Usually for RA's the universities waive the entire tuition but few may waive only 50% to 100% of the tuition and they will be paid a monthly stipend of around $1000 to $1500 depending on the professor and his research grant. An RA might be asked to do a thesis on a research topic.

B. Teaching Assistantship(TA):  The role of a TA is to teach and assist the  students with the subjects, evaluate student test papers etc. Tuition waiver and stipend policy may be applicable to TA's as RA's. The TA's might also be required to do thesis.

C. Graduate Assistantship(GA): The third kind of Non-work study job position is a graduate Assistantship or GA. Tuition might be waived for GA's in most of the schools but few may only waive 40% to 70%. To get a GA the students need to go and apply in each and every department in your university like Library, Mail room, Graduate office, International student centers etc. Usually the supervisors study your resume and if they like it they will call you for an interview. If you clear that you will get hired. GA's might not be required to do a thesis study.

D. A paid job: This fourth option is to work in any department in your school. For this you will not get any tuition waiver but you will be paid for individual hours of work. The maximum hours a student can work on campus is 20 per week and during semester break or summer break you may be eligible to work up to 40 hours a week.

However, if you need to get through the campus job interviews you need to prepared with your resume and how to present. It will always be beneficial if you have any previous related work experience. I personally worked as a GA. If you have any doubts about part-time jobs, leave a comment and I will try to clarify.

CPT stands for 'Curricular Practical Training', which will be of essential importance if you do M.S. This can be utilized to pursue any 'Internship' opportunities. Opting CPT not only give you practical training and improve the way your resume look but also helps make money. One more important advantage you may have by opting CPT is that you may get an exemption for one course from your course curriculum.

CPT Eligibility Criteria and Important instructions:
1. You must have to be stayed in US for atleast 9 months  in order to be eligible for CPT. 
2. CPT must be done before you graduate.
3. CPT can be done during vacation.
4. CPT can be opted as either full time or part time.
5. Students will be eligible for CPT even in case of reduced course load.
6. If you do CPT for 12 months or more, then you may not be eligible for 12 months of OPT. If you are doing MBA, you may not work for more than 9 months in order to be eligible for 11 months of OPT.
7. CPT is like an academic course.
8. You may get an exemption for one course if you opt CPT.
9. Your CPT course fee has to be paid before the start date of CPT program.
10. CPT applications for summer may not be processed after July 1st in some schools and this varies between universities.
11. If you still wish to work after summer break, then that will be a different application and  may need permissions from their concerned departments.

Documentation required for CPT application:
1. Signed offer of employment on company letter head which includes:
  • Begin and end dates of employment.
  • Number of hours per week which you are authorized to work.
  • The salary.
  • The duties of the position.
  • Full name and full address of company location where they located.
  • Signature from the employer.
Look at this Sample CPT authorization letter from employer:

2. The CPT form has to be signed by your faculty who are offering the grade.
3. The address changes must be reported to your International student center.

Note: There is NO unofficial CPT or Internship programs before 9 months of your stay in US. No employer could do that under any circumstances. I recommend everyone to be aware of eligibility criteria and not to fall for any traps.

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