Request OPT/CPT Letters

For visa-status international students

For international graduate students attending SEAS on an F-1 visa and seeking to do Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) following graduation, please read this page carefully prior to requesting certification letters from our office. Click to jump to the appropriate section:

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Certification Letter

OPT is defined by the Department of Homeland Security as "temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study." The purpose of the OPT Certification letter verifies the student's program completion date, or the date in which students have officially completed their final courses and exams at GW.

To request an OPT letter from SEAS, please follow the steps below:

  1. Students can apply for OPT up to 90 days before the program completion date and up to 60 days after the program completion date. From here, please be advised that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office takes approximately 60–90 days to process applications.
     
  2. Please submit the self-written cover letter mentioned on page 3 of the OPT Guidelines to the SEAS Office of Graduate Admissions & Student Services: seasgrad@gwu.edu.
     
  3. The Office of Graduate Admissions & Student Services will confirm receipt of the letter and follow up with the student if any additional information is needed.
     
  4. If students are deemed eligible for OPT, a letter will be created and sent to their graduate professional advisor who will review and sign the letter.
     
  5. The graduate professional advisor will then contact students when the letter is signed and ready for pickup. It is important that students wait for the academic advisor or department to contact them regarding pick-up. Students should NOT go to the advisor's office or department without receiving an email from them first. This process takes approximately one week, depending on volume at various times of the year.
     
  6. After students receive their OPT certification letter and all required documentation has been gathered, students may submit the completed application in person to the GW International Services Office located on the Foggy Bottom campus in the Old Main Building, Suite 205.

Please find the GW International Services Office OPT Guidelines document here

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Certification Letters

CPT, or Curricular Practica Training, is permission for international students in the U.S. to engage in off-campus employment or internship related to the student's degree program. It is an integral part of a degree program for which work authorization is provided to allow students to gain practical experience in their field while still taking courses for their degree.

The CPT letter from the student's graduate professional advisor serves to verify the connection between the student's current major program of study and the position for which the student is requesting CPT authorization.

To request a CPT letter, please follow the steps below:

  1. Gather required documents:
    • An official offer letter from the employer* written on their official company letterhead
    • A self-written proposal letter stating how the proposed training is directly related to the major field of study and expected graduation date (as listed in the ISO guidelines).
       
  2. Email both letters to seasgrad@gwu.edu. The office will confirm receipt of the documents and inform students if any additional information is needed.
     
  3. If eligible, based on the information provided, a letter will be created and and sent to the student's graduate professional advisor who will complete, review, and sign the letter.
     
  4. The graduate professional advisor will contact the student when your letter is signed and ready for pickup. It is important that students wait for their graduate professional advisor or department to contact them regarding picking up the letter. Please DO NOT go to the advisor's office or department without receiving an email from them first. This process takes approximately one week, depending on volume at various times of the year.
     
  5. After the student has received the CPT letter and collected all required documentation, students may submit the completed application in person to the GW International Services Office located on the Foggy Bottom campus in the Old Main Building, Suite 205.

* PLEASE NOTE: The offer letter from the employer should include the official position and role. It should not simply state that the student is an intern. The CPT experience is not an internship, but rather a practical training that directly relates to the student's studies. The letter should state what the student's specific duties will be and include start and end dates. 

Extension of CPT employment authorization

If the employer would like to extend their offer for the same position within the same semester, please contact your ISO advisor directly. An additional letter will not be required.

If you would like to request a new CPT authorization at the same employer for a new term, you will need to send the Office of Graduate Admissions & Student Services an updated offer letter and a new proposal letter. Any questions regarding new CPT employment authorization at the same employer should be directed to your ISO Advisor.