I graduated with a master’s degree in F-1 status and worked on optional practical training (OPT) for a year. When my OPT was about to end, I transferred to another master’s program …

… and received authorization from my designated school official (DSO) for curriculum practical training (CPT) to continue working. Is this allowed? Should I be concerned about maintaining my F-1 status?


Generally, there is no restriction on CPT authorization (provided it meets all applicable requirements) when the student transfers to another program of study, which may or may not follow a period of OPT. The question is always whether it meets the requirement of being an integral part of the established curriculum of the new program, which is always subject to high scrutiny when students enroll in schools with questionable reputations (so called “CPT magnets,” or “CPT mills”), and when it looks like the only or the main reason for the transfer to another program is to continue working.

This may become an issue when you or someone on your behalf (e.g. an employer) files an application or petition (e.g. H1B petition) with the USCIS asking to change or extend your status. Based on a recent USCIS memo, the USCIS may determine that you began to accrue unlawful presence when you commenced your CPT employment, if this was in violation of your status. (13.Jul.2018)

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