Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining F-1 Student Status at Columbia

Important Information for Students Fully Funded
by Columbia University

Transfer of F-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Message for Canadian Students

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance


Student Tax Information

Maintaining F-1 Status

Academic Certification for Travel

F-1 Travel Information

Govt Q & A for F-1 Travel

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

F-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

F-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program

F-1 Reinstatement

F-1 Work Opportunities

F-1 Practical Training (PT) Overview

F-1 Curricular Practical Training

F-1 Optional PT Before Degree Completion

F-1 Employment Before Graduation PowerPoint Slides

F-1 Optional PT After Degree Completion

Post-Completion OPT PowerPoint Slides (PDF format)

Post-Completion OPT Webinar

STEM 24-month OPT extension

F-1 Internship with an International Organization

F-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

F-1 Reduced Course Load Request

Inviting Relatives/Friends to Visit You

Address Change Form

Applying for a Social Security Number

Practical Training Overview for Students in F-1 Status

One of the important benefits of the F-1 student status is practical training (PT), which allows you to apply for temporary employment in your field of study. Practical Training is a privilege of F-1 status for which some F-1 students may qualify; it is not an entitlement of F-1 status. It may be available to F-1 students both before and after completing a course of study. The objective of practical training employment is not financial—rather, it is to provide the opportunity for the practical application of your academic studies. There are three other types of employment under F-1 immigration status which allow for employment of up to a total of 20 hours per week during the academic term and fulltime during the summers which may be more appropriate for you. If you find that practical training does not apply to your circumstances, please refer to International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) information on F-1 on-campus employment and F-1 off-campus employment based on financial need.

Getting permission to work is only one part of the process - to engage in practical training, you will need to find a job related to your field of study. If you need help in your job search, take advantage of all the resources available to you: the Center for Career Education or your school's placement office, your faculty adviser, other faculty and friends in your division or department, newspapers or professional journals, and so on.

Practical Training Information will detail the following categories of practical training:

  • Curricular practical training (before completion of your studies)

  • Optional practical training, available in the following variations:

    • optional practical training before completion of your studies:

      1. practical training during the annual vacation

      2. practical training after completion of all course requirements for the degree except the thesis or equivalent, or

      3. practical training while school is in session, provided that employment does not exceed 20 hours per week

    • optional practical training after completion of your studies

    • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) 17-month extension of optional practical training after the initial period of authorized post-completion OPT.

      This information should answer most of your questions on practical training. If you have additional questions regarding PT, you may wish to attend the F-1 Employment Information Sessions offered by the ISSO. Naturally, if you still have questions about practical training - or you need the information before the seminars are offered - you may drop by the ISSO. Students whose immigration documents were processed by the International Affairs Officeat the Medical Center should contact the IAO for specific procedures. 

      Last Reviewed: 17 February 2011 Last modified: 17 February 2011
      Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office