For international graduate students attending GW on an F-1 visa and seeking to do Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT), please read this page carefully prior to requesting certification letters.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) Certification Letter
OPT is defined by the U.S. 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.
Steps to request an OPT letter:
- You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before your program completion date and up to 60 days after the program completion date. From here, please be advised that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes approximately 60-90 days to process applications.
- Please submit the self-written cover letter mentioned on page 3 of the OPT Guidelines to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We will confirm receipt of the letter and follow up with you if any additional information is needed.
- If you are deemed eligible for OPT, a letter will be created and sent to your graduate professional advisor who will review and sign the letter.
- The graduate professional advisor will then contact you when the letter is signed and ready for pickup. It is important that you wait for your academic advisor or department to contact you 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.
- After you receive your OPT certification letter and all required documentation has been gathered, you may submit the completed application in person to the GW International Services Office.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Certification Letters
CPT, or Curricular Practica Training, is permission for international students 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 your graduate professional advisor serves to verify the connection between your current program of study and the position for which you are requesting CPT authorization.
Steps to request a CPT letter:
- Gather required documents:
- Official offer letter from the employer written on their official company letterhead.
- Self-written proposal letter stating how the proposed training is directly related to your field of study and expected graduation date (as listed in the ISO guidelines).
- Email both letters to email@example.com. We will confirm receipt of the documents and contact you if any additional information is needed.
- If you are considered eligible, a letter will be created and and sent to your graduate professional advisor who will complete, review and sign the letter.
- The graduate professional advisor will contact you when your letter is signed and ready for pickup. It is important that you wait for your graduate professional advisor or department to contact you 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.
- After you receive the CPT letter and collect all required documentation, you may submit the completed application in person to the GW International Services Office.
*Please note: The offer letter from the employer should include the official position and role. It should not simply state that you are serving as an intern. The CPT experience is not an internship, but rather a practical training that directly relates to your studies. The letter should state what your specific duties will be and include start and end dates for the position.
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 an updated offer letter and a new proposal letter. Please send these documents to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any questions regarding new CPT employment authorization at the same employer should also be directed to your ISO Advisor.