Can international PhD students go do internships during summer in industries?

Does their F1 visa status allow this?

From how I see it, this is neither an OPT or a CPT.

I asked my International Office and they said I could spend a term at another university because then I'm still enrolled Full Time (just at another institution) which I believe is fine with some paperwork. However, they are getting back to me (it's been a while so I am asking here) whether anyone else has done something similar?


Yes you can, and this is exactly what CPT is for. (assuming you get paid for the internship. If you are not being paid - I'm not sure what the rules are, but it might be easier than CPT)

You can do it for up to 12 month (not necessarily consecutive) during your degree. Check again with your international Office for the exact rules (you might still need to be enrolled to 12 units if not summer quarter/semester).

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  • Are you sure? From what I gather, specific programs have an internship as a part of their curriculum and ONLY they are able to issues CPTs for their students. Further, aren't CPT students required to have coursework left (& not just their thesis?). The rest can file OPTs but that's AFTER graduation and not during summers or other vacations. I'm a bit mixed up with all the data. Can you point me to any official/government website? – user107 Aug 1 '12 at 3:41
  • AFAIK, CPT is for any during-studies internship and OPT is for after-graduation work. I'm not aware of programs in which CPT is not authorized since "it is not required". You might need to have your advisor justify why the CPT is relevant and required as part of your studies (that is, if you are, say, a maht student, performing an internship in a restaurant should not be authorized.) [I'm currently internshipping in industry, with F1 and CPT. Other F1 students have CPT as well] – Ran G. Aug 1 '12 at 3:48
  • Great! Thanks! I'll contact my DSO on that front. +1 and Accepted. – user107 Aug 1 '12 at 3:50

I was an international undergraduate in the US and I participated in summer research programs twice during those 4 years. This is slightly different from what the OP is asking, since I was working at a different university as opposed to a company. The way it worked for me was the following: I needed a faculty member at my home institution to be my 'sponsor', and I had to register for a 2 credit course over the relevant summer. Having finished my summer research, I was required to give a presentation (to some sort of relevant audience, for example, once to an 'Introduction to Research' class) and submit a journal/report. I believe my supervisor from the institution where I did my summer work was asked for a short report on my activities. That was all.

The biggest hurdle for me was to find summer programs which are willing to accept international students, or at least to fund us (in mathematics, for example, REUs are typically funded by the NSF, which prevents them from accepting international students). In Math I was only able to find 2-3 programs which would do so. There were many more in biology/biochemistry. I have a list around here somewhere if anyone is seeking such information. On the other hand, this might be different if one is looking at industry.

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F-1 visa and his corresponding OPT and CPT are some or what the same for bachelors , Masters and PHD. , you can do internships whenever you want if you are a international student provided the following status.

  1. you want to do 40 hour intern in summer - you can apply for CPT.

  2. you want to do 20 hr. intern in fall or spring - you can apply for CPT.

  3. you want to do 40 hr. intern in fall or spring - you can apply for pre OPT but please note that this is you OPT period.

But all these would work if your university or college agrees on your intern , in my case , I had intern in spring in north and my univ was in South my department denied my CPT since it was far away from my univ stating that it would effect my academic performance.

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