How to Respond to RFE for More than 12 Months of CPT, OPT and STEM OPT

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rfe for more than 12 months of cpt opt and stem opt

Here is advice from a DSO (posted in the Facebook Group):

The one you may have already heard about is the multiple years of practical training at the same degree level.

Long story short is that adjudicators now seem to be citing a line in the regulations which states that an F-1 may receive up to 12 months of “practical training” and becomes eligible for another 12 months at a higher degree level.

The obvious problem here is that historically time spent on CPT was never used as a deduction from OPT; the only connection was 12 months of Full-Time CPT would make an F-1 ineligible for post-OPT.

So it appears that USCIS is applying a literal reading of a line of 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10) in that “practical training” is an umbrella term and moving forward there will be no distinction between CPT and OPT as it relates to 12 months of practical training.

If you are applying for H-1B Visa and have more than 12 months of Practical Training including CPT, OPT and STEM OPT, please inform your Immigration Attorney while your petition is being prepared for filing with USCIS.

The practice for many years has been that part-time CPT did not affect OPT.  These recent RFEs, however, seem to indicate that, moving forward, USCIS will be deploying an interpretation of 8 CFR214.2(f)(10) that is much broader than in years past, such that ANY and ALL authorized practical training is done at one educational level counts towards a 12-month allotment.

Additionally, it is very important to recognize that government websites (i.e. StudyInTheStates), are okay to use when trying to understand general concepts. But a website is NOT the regulatory authority that governs what F/J students can do or can’t do. In an RFE, they don’t cite the study in the states— they cite 8CFR214.2(f)


Here is another DSO on the same topic on how to be prepared for the  RFE:

Technically, historical interpretation is an individual can utilize up to 364 days of full-time CPT and not lose their eligibility in filing for OPT.

USCIS adjudicators are, some I should say, trying to interpret any CPT authorization would essentially use up work authorization time that would otherwise be granted. I.e. 4 months cpt authorization = 8 months OPT authorization. This makes no sense…. all students have to submit a copy of any OPT and CPT authorizations on I20s as part of their applications for OPT/STEM OPT.

If this was a real regulation, then every single student would NOT get their 12 months of OPT or 24 months of Stem OPT (if timely filed). I don’t know of any actual language that has changed in the adjudicator manual to lead to this reasoning for RFEs.

This is why its SO important to report these issues to your DSOs. We advocate for you at the federal policy level in Washington DC and with the power of NAFSA and other organizations.

If you do want CPT, talk with your DSO and your academic department to draw up an agreement between the school and the employer highlighting topics covered IN class to be part of work responsibilities in the internship. Yes, I said internship, NOT job or part-time job.

Question: So I have done 8 month of CPT and now I am in STEM OPT. I got selected for H1B this year (April 12) and receive my receipt May 5th, but on USCIS website says still my case was received. No update yet. Do you think I will receive RFE due to my CPT 8 month? I am kinda confused and helpless. Any information reading this will really be appreciated.

RFE will delay adjudication and you may wait for a decision much longer than you anticipated. It’s basically USCIS saying something in your application is questionable and they need clarification to make a decision.

If you get that type of RFE on your H1B petition, it will most likely go to your employer/attorney, and they will instruct you to contact your DSO. Your DSO would write a letter outlining the dates of any CPT or OPT employment authorization. The letter would also include a statement of support, as the long-standing custom has always been that the only time CPT impacts OPT at the same level is when a student uses 12 months of full-time CPT. Anything under 12 months Full Time is separate and historically did not hinder OPT approval.

Want to learn more on this topic – Follow this FB Thread.

How to Respond to Such RFE?

Response from an Attorney:

This is a template RFE where they send out to applicants who in USCIS’ mind has “abused” the CPT system by returning to school after OPT solely for the purpose of continuing to work for the same employer (or in the similar field). Because officers are instructed to send this template, sometimes when they get busy they forgot to change the name of the university. This is a tough RFE to respond to because much of the evidence will have to come from the university.


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