This page provides international students (F-1 or J-1 visas) with important information pertaining to cooperative education (co-op). Here you will learn about work authorization and co-op policies, access useful resources and forms and more.
Curricular Practical Training, also known as CPT, allows F-1 students to engage in off-campus employment as long as it is an integral part of their curriculum.
The types of employment available include: alternate work/study internship, cooperative education (co-op), or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.
For a complete description of CPT, please visit International Student and Scholars Services (ISSS).
Pre-requisites and Requirements
- CPT must be an integral part of your curriculum and must be required by your academic program.
- You must be receiving course credit throughout the CPT period (DCUs count as course credit).
- You must secure relevant co-op employment.
- Co-ops cannot occur on your last term of studies (exception for transfers from another institution).
How to Obtain CPT
You are responsible for obtaining CPT (work authorization) prior to each co-op.
- Successfully secure co-op employment through: SCDConline or a self-directed job search.
- Communicate with your co-op coordinator to obtain the and the Co-op-Int-Agreement forms.
- Print and complete the forms. Schedule an appointment with your co-op coordinator before your co-op begins.
- After your co-op coordinator signs the forms to approve the co-op, you will proceed to the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office to continue the work authorization process.
- All paperwork must be submitted to ISSS PRIOR to employment start date.
- ISSS will process your employment paperwork and update your I-20. Paperwork may take up to 72 hours to be processed by ISSS, so plan accordingly.
- You will be notified by ISSS when your I-20 is available for pick up.
- You must collect your I-20 from ISSS before beginning your co-op.
- If a social security number is needed for your co-op, first verify with ISSS. If they instruct you to apply for a social security number, please do so by visiting a social security office. ISSS will provide you with complete instructions on how to obtain a social security number. Please note that it can take 3 weeks for you to receive your social security card via mail. Be sure to plan accordingly.
Duration of CPT
- CPT will be issued to you for the length of your co-op.
- Employment dates and company information listed on the Student Co-op Registration Agreement - International Students form are exactly what appears on your I-20.
- It is your responsibility to track the number of CPT days used while on co-op and calculate how many CPT days are remaining. You may also consult with ISSS to acquire this information.
- You are responsible for obtaining CPT (work authorization) prior to each co-op.
- CPT can be approved for part-time co-ops (20 hours per week) or full-time co-ops (32-40 hours per week), depending on the type of CPT.
Changes to CPT
- Any work interruptions or date changes while on authorized CPT must be reported to a student’s co-op coordinator and ISSS BEFORE the change(s) occur(s).
- Your co-op coordinator may require written approval from your co-op employer, should your dates of employment change.
- To implement any CPT employment changes, ISSS requires an email from your co-op coordinator or a member of Steinbright.
F-1 students may qualify for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This allows you to engage in temporary off-campus employment to gain practical experience in your field of study.
To be eligible for OPT, you must have been lawfully enrolled, on a full-time basis, at a Department of Homeland Security-approved school in the U.S. for one full academic year.
OPT is available both before and after completion of your educational objective, but different rules apply to pre- and post- completion OPT.
OPT must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
Please be advised that all co-op employment is Curricular Practical Training (CPT), not Optional Practical Training (OPT). Should you have any questions, please contact the International Student and Scholars Services Office (ISSS) in person by visiting the Creese Student Center, Suite 210, by calling 215-895-2502 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OPT Eligibility and International Co-op
- To maintain OPT eligibility, full-time CPT cannot exceed 364 days. Please understand that holidays and weekends count toward CPT.
- If you work more than 364 days in the U.S., you forfeit OPT eligibility.
- Use of part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.
- International co-op does not count towards the 364 CPT days.
International Co-op Reminders and Information
- Notify ISSS of your co-op abroad before your departure.
- Full-time registration is maintained while abroad.
- Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will remain active.
- No CPT (work authorization) required.
International House Philadelphia - Offers a full spectrum of programs that create individuals who are able to work and interact successfully with people from all backgrounds. IHP offers courses in English as well as other languages that can be taken by all students.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation – For information related to obtaining a Pennsylvania Driver’s License.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - This is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.
U.S. Department of State – For information pertaining to foreign affairs and international relations.
1. Am I eligible to work legally in the United States?
Yes! Federal regulations permit the employment of international students on F-1 and exchange visitor students on J-1 visas, with certain limits.
If you are on an F-1 visa, you have the ability to work legally in the U.S., while on co-op, using Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
- CPT is a type of employment authorization that allows F-1 students to work in the U.S. while on co-op. Co-op employment must be related to the F-1 student’s major and provide practical training. Co-op is permitted under CPT work authorization, as it is a program requirement.
- All F-1 students must obtain CPT work authorization from the International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) office prior to starting co-op employment.
Students on J-1 visas are eligible to work legally in the U.S., while on co-op, using Academic Training (A.T.).
Academic Training is designed to allow J-1 students the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off-campus.
All J-1 students must obtain work authorization from the International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) office prior to starting co-op employment.
If you possess a visa other than F-1 or J-1, please contact the International Students and Scholars Services office. The office is located in the Creese Student Center, Suite 210. You may visit them, call them at 215-895-2502 or email them at email@example.com.
2. Will I now or in the future require sponsorship?
Often, when completing employment applications you will see the question, “Will you now or in the future require sponsorship?”.
While working on co-op, students on F-1 visas will be using Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Students on J-1 visas will be using Academic Training (A.T.) in order to work on co-op. When you are working on co-op (using either CPT or A.T.), the employer is NOT sponsoring you.
After you graduate from Drexel University and are seeking permanent employment, you will eventually require sponsorship. However, if you apply for and are approved to use Optional Practical Training (OPT), a type of work authorization that international students may access following graduation, you are permitted to work in the U.S. for a dedicated period of time, without an employer having to provide employment sponsorship.
For more information, please contact International Students and Scholars Services. The office is located in the Creese Student Center, Suite 210. You may visit them, call them at 215-895-2502 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also access online webinars to receive more information on work authorization:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) webinar
Optional Practical Training (OPT) webinar
3. If I work on co-op in the U.S, what taxes do I pay?
Federal Income Tax: F-1 and J-1 students must pay federal income tax.
State Income Tax: Depending on where students live and work, F-1 and J-1 students may have to pay state taxes.
City Wage Tax: Depending on where students live and work, F-1 and J-1 students may have to pay city taxes.
Exemption from Social Security and Medicare Taxes (FICA):
Students present in the U.S. on an F-1 or J-1 visa are generally considered nonresident aliens under U.S. tax law. As a nonresident alien, you are exempt from Social Security taxes under section 3121 (b) (19) of the Internal Revenue Code for wages you receive while on Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
You should inform your employer about your Social Security and Medicare tax (FICA) exemption. If your employer is unable to exclude your wages from Social Security tax, you may be entitled to a refund from the IRS (IRS Publication 519, Chapter 8, pg. 46 (U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, 2006).
Please refer to the following for more detailed information:
http://www.irs.ustreas.gov (Publication 519 -- U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, 2006)
F-1 and J-1 visa students can consult with the Tax Office at Drexel University with any questions about taxes: http://www.drexel.edu/depts/compt/tax/.