International Students

Special Information for International Students

The United States Department of Homeland Security imposes restrictions on course loads and employment for international students:

Full Course of Study Requirement/Online Course Guidelines

  • International Students must be enrolled full-time students with at least 9 credits per semester. All full-time students will be required to participate in an internship component for 3-6 credits.
  • Online course enrollment is restricted for F-1 and J-1 students. Please read below for full details.
  • J-1 students must enroll in traditional on-campus courses to fulfill their minimum credit load for all required semesters.

Fall and Spring Semester Enrollment

  • F-1 students - Only one online (3-credit maximum) course will count toward your enrollment requirement (9 credits) during fall and spring semesters. E.g. You need to register in at least 6 credits of traditional, on-campus courses for Rutgers–New Brunswick graduate students.
  • J-1 students- You are only permitted to take an online course if this course is an addition to the credits required for a full course of study. If a J-1 student has a required online course for their academic program, that student still must enroll in on-campus courses to meet the full-time enrollment requirement.

FAQ: Can I register for 2 online courses (6 credits) if I plan to register for 12 credits in the fall/spring terms?  Yes.  If you are an F-1 student, you may register for 2 online courses.  6 of these credits must be traditional on campus courses.  

Summer Enrollment

F-1 and J-1 students can enroll in online courses during summer IF:

  • The student has been enrolled in at least the preceding spring semester full-time at Rutgers University
  • The student will be enrolled in courses during the next fall semester full-time at Rutgers University

Summer term is a vacation period, and therefore it is optional for most continuing students.

Final term of Study (Fall, Spring, and Summer)

If an F-1 or J-1 student needs only one course to complete the program of study and the student intends to remain in the US, that course must be in a traditional on-campus format. This will allow the student to maintain their visa status and be eligible to apply for post-degree work opportunities if they choose to do so.

If an F-1 or J-1 student chooses to take online courses during their final semester, that student must contact Rutgers Global - ISSS, complete the leave of absence procedure specific to their school/department, and depart the US. In this case, a student will no longer be eligible for work authorizations such as Optional Practical Training (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1).

Visit this link for additional information/details.


CPT/OPT Information

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

  • These forms are for F-1 international students who have completed one academic year in full time student status.
  • J-1 Students have different work authorizations, and dependents (F-2 or J-2) are not eligible for CPT/OPT.
  • Most forms can now be submitted online through the RGlobal portal. 

Eligibility

F-1 students eligible for CPT are:

  • Offered a paid or unpaid employment opportunity qualified for CPT
  • Have been a full time student for at least one academic year (if a graduate program curriculum requires enrolled students to immediately participate in curricular practical training, F-1 students may be exempt from the one academic year requirement)
  • In good academic standing
  • Maintaining legal status
  • Approved to register for corresponding course/credit for the practical training for the semester/summer during which the student is engaged in practical training

Full-Time vs. Part-Time CPT

In most cases, students may be authorized—with approval from Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services—for part time CPT (20 hours per week or less) during the fall and spring semesters. F-1 students may be authorized for full time CPT (more than 20 hours per week) during the summer and winter break periods.

Exceptionally, with approval from Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services, students may be eligible for full time CPT during the fall and spring semesters, following these conditions:

  • Undergraduate students in the last semester to complete a degree program and authorized for less than a full-time course load  
  • Graduate students who have completed all course work, or are in the last semester to complete course work and are authorized for less than full-time course load 

Please note that students who have received one year or more of full-time curricular practical training are ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) at the same educational level. Part time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.

How to Apply for CPT

  1. Review this website and attend an Off-Campus Employment Workshop (recommended)—please see our event calendar for upcoming events.
  2. Consult with your school/program regarding academic eligibility for CPT
  3. Prepare application materials:
    1. Job offer letter (Students in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy are required to have the Preceptor’s Certification for CPT form completed for rotations and must submit this form instead of a job offer letter)
    2. Certification for CPT form, completed by employer and Undergraduate Academic Dean, Graduate Program Director or Registrar (for RBHS students) 
    3. Proof of registration for the CPT course if not yet appearing on your unofficial transcript (i.e. screenshot of web registration page showing your name, the relevant semester and course number)
  4. Submit completed CPT application online through the RGlobal portal
  5. Pick up new I-20 with CPT authorization on page 2, after receiving an email saying it’s ready

Please note that you should submit a Reduced Credit Form along with a CPT application if you are registering below full-time credit load.

Proof of Employment Authorization

When approved for CPT, an F-1 student receives an updated I-20 with the relevant CPT employment information displayed on page 2. Authorized employment may only begin after the student has received the updated I-20 from Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services and the start date shown on page 2 has arrived.

Changes to CPT

CPT is authorized for a specific employer for a defined period of time.  Notify an international student adviser if there is any change with your current CPT employment start/end date, address or number of hours per week.  If you would like to change employers or extend your CPT authorization into a new term/semester, a complete new CPT application must be submitted.  For CPT extensions during the current term/semester, contact an international student adviser for further guidance.

Forms

For additional information regarding CPT please click here. 


Optional Practical Training (OPT) 

Eligibility

F-1 students eligible for OPT are: 

  • In F-1 status for at least one academic year;
  • In good academic standing
  • Maintaining legal status;
  • Authorized for less than 12 months of full time CPT. F-1 students who have used one year or more of full time CPT are no longer eligible for OPT. Use of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.

Please note that you do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.

Amount of Time Allowed on OPT

F-1 students may be authorized for a maximum of 12 months of full time OPT during or following each advancing degree level. Part-time pre-completion OPT accrues at a rate of 50 percent (e.g., six months of part-time OPT counts as three months of the total).

Some students may be eligible for an OPT extension after completing the initial 12 months.

How to Apply for OPT

Please review our tutorial, Preparing Your OPT Application.

When to Apply

Pre-completion OPT applications can be submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) up to 90 days before the proposed OPT start date. The application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the date an international student adviser enters the OPT recommendation into SEVIS.

Post-completion OPT applications can be submitted to USCIS up to 90 days before the degree requirements completion date and up to 60 days after the degree requirements completion date. The application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the date an international student adviser enters the OPT recommendation into SEVIS

Proof of Employment Authorization

When approved for OPT, an F-1 student receives an EAD (employment authorization document) card displaying the relevant validity period. Employment is authorized only after you receive your EAD card, and you may begin work on the start date listed on your card.

OPT Reporting Requirements

Using our OPT Data Update e-Form via the RGlobal portal, you are required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to inform Rutgers Global–International Student and Scholar Services about:

  • All changes of U.S. address, phone number, and email address
  • Any legal name changes
  • The name and address of every OPT employer you have
  • If your employment with any OPT employer is terminated or interrupted, the date of such termination or interruption

There is a 10-day regulatory deadline for reporting each item on the list above. Schools are then required to report this information to DHS via the SEVIS database. Please use the OPT Data Update Form Tutorial for detailed OPT reporting instructions.

Students on active post-completion OPT will receive an email regarding the SEVP portal. However, Rutgers Global - International Student and Scholar Services requires that you continue to submit all OPT information updates using the OPT Data Update e-Form via the RGlobal portal. Do not report any information via the SEVP portal after you submit your updates via the RGlobal portal. You may still create an SEVP portal account to review your information in SEVIS.

Unemployment During OPT

During the initial 12-month period of post-completion OPT, no student (including STEM students) may be unemployed for an aggregate of more than 90 days. If a STEM student receives a 24-month extension, the limit on unemployment is raised to an aggregate of 150 days, applied to the entire 36-month period during which the student is on post-completion OPT.

There is no unemployment limit for students authorized for pre-completion OPT.

International Travel During OPT

  • Traveling abroad between submitting an OPT application and receiving the USCIS receipt notice, or when waiting for a STEM extension EAD (after initial EAD has expired) could result in the loss of OPT and denial of readmission to the United States
  • While on post-completion OPT or an extension, regulations allow F-1 students to re-enter the United States to resume employment
  • While on OPT, please note that an F-1 visa application may be a high risk application and the chances of denial could be greater than normal

​​For more information on travel and visas, please visit our Travel and Visa Information page.

​​End of Post-Completion OPT Authorization

Your OPT authorization ends when you start another degree program, when you change to another status, when your EAD card expires, if an a STEM extension request is denied, or if your H-1B cap-gap extension is denied. Learn more about OPT extensions

After the completion of OPT, F-1 students have a grace period of 60 days within which to depart the United States, transfer to a new school or program, or apply to change your legal status (if eligible). If you are eligible for the 24-Month STEM OPT Extension, USCIS must receive your application before the expiration of your initial 12 months of OPT.

Forms

For information on your reporting requirements, please review carefully the Optional Practical Training information, and use the OPT Update Form Tutorial to complete the reporting requirements. 


OPT Extension 

Some F-1 students may be eligible for an extension of their initial 12 months of OPT if they have received a degree in an eligible STEM field or have a pending or approved H-1B application.

For information on your reporting requirements, please review carefully the Optional Practical Training information, and use the OPT Update Form Tutorial to complete the reporting requirements. 

Additional information for international students can be found at https://global.rutgers.edu/resources-forms/visiting-students.


Please visit the following websites to learn more about policies and regulations for International Students:
   
Rutgers University - Newark
Office of International Student and Scholar Services
https://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/oiss

Rutgers University - New Brunswick
RGlobal - International Student and Scholar Services 
https://global.rutgers.edu/

Rutgers University - Camden
Division of Student Affairs - International Students
https://ois.camden.rutgers.edu/

 
  • *All international students MUST have their transcripts translated and evaluated COURSE BY COURSE through WES or ECE.

  • *All international students must take an English language exam upon arrival. Based on the score received, you may be required to take the PALS course.


You can also learn more on our Frequently Asked Questions page, or the international student section on the Graduate Admissions page.