Category: Student Visa

Silicon Valley University Stripped of Ability to Recruit Foreign Students

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement revoked authorization previously extended to Herguan University for recruiting international students.  The Silicon Valley university has been popular with foreign students from India.

ICE estimates that the school has 240 foreign students, 180 of them from India.

Herguan University is a for-profit university.


Last year, former Herguan University Chief Executive Officer pleaded guilty to filing false immigration documents with the Department of Homeland Security.  He served time in a California prison after pleading guilty to submitting more than 100 false documents to DHS while enrolling international students.  He also paid a fine of $700,000.

Students enrolled at Herguan have until January 11, 2017 to either leave the U.S. or transfer to another college or university.  If one of those actions are not completed in that time period, the students’ records will be terminated in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and they will be considered out of status.

Students who have not yet entered the U.S. will not be admitted into the U.S. with the Herguan-issued Form I-20.

ICE is requiring Herguan to notify each of their active and inactive students of the school’s loss of the ability to issue Form I-20s.

In March of 2014, a federal jury convicted the head of another for-profit California university – Tri-Valley – on charges of visa fraud, money laundering and harboring an alien.  Susan Su allegedly charged foreign nationals millions of dollars in exchange for false documents that would allow the students to stay and work in the United States.

With this university being located in Silicon Valley, we suspect that the university was really a front to provide IT workers to tech companies in the Bay Area.  With the high demand for talent and the limited number of legal options – namely, our nation’s broken H-1B visa program – it appears that some of the students at Herguan were probably working through the Curricular Practical Training program.  It seems likely that the students were not fulfilling all of their educational requirements associated with their F1 student visas.

Students who have questions regarding Herguan University are advised to contact an immigration lawyer and/or the SEVP Response Center (SRC) at 703–603–3400.




Can an F1 student work while studying in the U.S.?

Can an international students from overseas studying in the United States on an F-1 student visa work, and if so, what are the conditions?


Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.


International students comes to the United States, and obviously they have to be able to pay for their tuition and their living expense, and the law it does allow in 3 ways for international students to work in the United States. There are a lot of restrictions on it, and they have to be very careful not to violate the terms of their F-1 student status because keep in mind that the international students who come on F-1’s are subjected to regulations regarding work, and they’re expected that the reason that they’re here and what they’re doing with most of their time is going to school, but the law does allow for some work to be done.


One thing to keep in mind is that at its very basic level the F-1 student visa allows students to work on campus for up to 20 hours a week. That’s considered part-time work, and it has to be at the university on campus or at a closely affiliated place. For instance, international students can work for the food service industry that manages the food at the university, or they work at the campus book store, or they can work at various locations throughout the campus, but they can’t work for, let’s say, McDonald’s or off campus in the immediate vicinity. It has to be on campus and it has to be at the school.


That’s for every international school. They can always work 20 hours a week part-time during the school year, and they are allowed after a year to work during the summer on a full-time basis. That reminds me to mention that as an F-1 student you can’t work your first year, so it’s only after your second year that you’re able to work in the United States on an F-1 visa on that part-time 20-hour basis.


The second way that international students can work is through what’s called Curricular Practical Training or CPT. CPT is work that is done, sort of an internships or externship or practicum that are part of the course of study. Let’s say that someone is studying to be a speech therapist, and the university generally requires speech therapist to work outside the university for an extended period of time in order to qualify to graduate. In other words, it’s part of the study.


Under CPT, the student can work off campus and they can work full-time. The law does allow for that. You have to apply for CPT with your international student office. You have to be issued a new I-20 by the international student office that reflects your request and your intention to do CPT. It has to be related to your field and it can’t just be some random work. It has to be something that’s toward your major.


One thing to keep in mind about CPT is that if you do a full 12 months of CPT, then that’s going to prevent you from getting the benefit of the third type of work that we’re going to discuss in just a minute, which is called OPT. Just keep in mind that if you’re going to work full-time in CPT, which the law does allow, you need to make sure that you don’t do it for more than a year, or at least if you are going to do it for more than a year, that you’ve thought the consequences of that.


The last way that students can work on their F-1 international student visa is by getting what’s call the Optional Practical Training, OPT. OPT is a that students can work after graduation while remaining on their F-1 student visa. OPT allows students to work in their field of study for an employer to test drive them out, or like you say, to see if it’s a good fit, to see if the employer may want to allow the student to come back on an H-1B work visa down the road.


OPT is good for 12 months, so after you gradate, you can work for up to 12 months on OPT. It’s a complicated process. You have to deal with your international student office, and you have to fill out some paperwork to get an amended I-20. You’re going to need demonstrate that the job is related to your field of study. You’re going to have to explain that to your international student officer. Then, you get the OPT and you’re able to work, and then you have to apply for an I-765 work card. You can’t work until that work card comes and you’re able to work for up to 12 months.


We have other videos that discuss the STEM Extension, so students that work in the STEM field, which are science, technology, engineering, and math, you can get an extension. Currently, it’s 17 months but soon to be 24 months, that allows you to continue working on OPT for up to 3 full years if you’re in one of those fields.


Check out our videos on that, but if you have any question about work incidental to your F-1 student visa, that 20 hour a week part-time gig on campus that we discussed or Curricular Practical Training, or about OPT feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can always email us at If you like this video, please make sure to click on the Subscribe button. We try to update the YouTube channel often and regularly, and we hope you enjoyed the video. Thanks a lot.

What do F1 international students need to know about curricular practical training (CPT)?

We get a lot of questions about CPT.  So we thought we would tackle the most frequently asked questions right here on our website.

What is it?

  • CPT stands for “Curricular Practical Training.” It is, along with “Optional Practical Training” (OPT), one of two forms of practical training available to students in the United States on F-1 visas.
  • CPT is employment that is an integral part of a particular education curriculum, such as work/study, an internship, or a practicum. It can either be required for a program (the educational program requires practical work experience in order to graduate) or optional (the work is related to the field of study, and for academic credit, but is not required).

Who is eligible?

  • It is available to people in the United States on F-1 student visas.

When can someone use CPT?

  • A student on an F-1 visa can use CPT during the course of an academic program.
  • If the program is undergraduate, the student must have declared a major and must use CPT after they have been enrolled full time for one academic year.
  • If the CPT occurs during a graduate program, it can begin immediately (if the program requires work experience immediately).
  • Before applying for CPT, the student must have either a signed cooperative agreement (indicating the relationship of the employer and the school) or a letter from their employer indicating a job offer.


How long does CPT Last?

  • As long as a student follows all of the requirements of CPT, there is no restriction on how long it may last (other than the length of the program).
  • If a student performs twelve months or more of full-time (defined as working more than twenty hours a week) they will not be eligible for OPT following graduation.

Do unpaid internships require CPT approval?

  • This is not always required, strictly speaking, but is highly advisable.
  • The Department of Labor has laid out the following criteria for a legitimate unpaid internship:
    • The internship, even though it includes actual operation on the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;
  • And the employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship


  • Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has laid out the following rationales for authorizing CPT:
    • CPT authorization by the university serves to demonstrate that this practical experience is part of the curriculum.
    • CPT authorization is a way of reporting in SEVIS the student’s activity, employment, and location where they are working and therefore maintaining their status.
    • If ever a student is doing a job on an unpaid basis that someone would be hired and paid for, employment authorization in the form of CPT, OPT, etc. is advised.
    • If the unpaid internship at some point changes into a paid one (or if your employer decides to compensate you for your work in any way – for example, give you a monetary gift), you won’t be able to accept the payment if your internship was not authorized as CPT. Please keep in mind that F-1 students cannot be retroactively remunerated or in any way compensated for work done in an unpaid internship if they did not obtain work authorization prior to when the work was performed.


  • The rationale for CPT is not solely the payment of students. It is a way for international students to gain work experience that is an integral part of their academic program.  Many unpaid internships fit this description, and the student and university can save themselves a lot of potential headaches by following the CPT procedure for such an internship.

What are the restrictions on CPT work?

  • There is no restriction on the amount of time a student may do part time CPT (defined as twenty hours a week or less), but they must also take a full time academic course load in order to maintain F-1 status.
  • The CPT employment must be related to the major or field of study and the work experience has to be a part of the program (either required or for credit).

What are the responsibilities of the school?

  • A student seeking to work using CPT must provide all relevant information to the Designated School Official. The Designated School Official must verify all forms, send to the USCIS and then endorse the student’s I-20.

What should an F-1 student do if they get arrested in the United States?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States and out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. International students who come to the United States on an F-1 student visa sometimes get into criminal trouble. We see this a lot with shoplifting, DUIs, little petty offenses. Obviously, more serious things can happen. We recently handled a case where a fellow had broken into his girlfriend’s apartment and assaulted her. Just like anybody else, international students are not the only ones who get into criminal trouble, but when an international student gets into criminal trouble, there are special concerns and considerations that have to be taken into account.

What am I talking about? An F-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa. This means that there’s no long-term, immigration benefit to someone on an F-1. They may later switch to an immigrant visa, but when you’re in the United States on a non-immigrant visa, I like to tell people that you’re barely here. You are in the United States physically, but you’re here at the good graces of the United States. If the United States decides that you’re going to go, you’re going to go. There aren’t a lot of protections available to kids here in the United States on an F-1 visa who get into criminal trouble.

The first thing that you have to take into account is that you need to talk an immigration attorney. You want to make sure that when you talk to your criminal defense attorney that the two attorneys are talking back and forth because sometimes a deal that is good for a US citizen or green card holder would not be as good for the international student. A lot of times, the most serious consequences of a criminal offense are to have the international student deported. There aren’t a lot of protections available. One of the things that you have to keep in mind is that the international student could face what’s called expedited removal. Expedited removal is sort of a summary dismissal of the individual from the United States. You don’t have a lot of due process, you don’t even get the chance to go in front of a judge.

If you’re placed into expedited removal, you’re going to face serious trouble. You want to make sure that you are taking in account all the immigration consequences of any guilty pleas that the criminal defense attorney might be recommending. You’re going to get arrested and you’re going to get fingerprinted, and then you’re probably going to get a court date. You’re most likely going to be allowed out, unless the offense was particularly serious. You might have to stay in jail while the criminal charges are pending, but if you’re allowed out you need to make sure to talk to an immigration attorney. If you’re stuck in jail, you need to find a friend or a family member to contact the immigration attorney.

One of the things that we see a lot of is that the international student is ashamed or worried about talking to their family. We had a student recently who got caught shoplifting at a Wal-Mart and she was very reluctant to deal with the situation because she was going to have to face her parents. She was able to get a friend to help her pay for the legal fees and the criminal charge fees so that she can try to handle this on her own, but we don’t necessarily recommend that. If you can, you should tell your parents, you should tell your family and explain to them the situation because you don’t want to be making decisions on your own that could have long-term consequences for you from an immigration perspective.

When you get arrested, don’t say anything to the police. Tell them that you want to talk to a lawyer. Tell them that you’re not going to give them a statement. Don’t give them any kind of additional evidence to use against you. They will use it against you. Once your criminal proceedings are over, if you’ve taken a guilty plea, you could be placed under removal proceedings, deportation proceedings, even if your criminal defense attorney told you that you weren’t going to. If you have questions about what to do if you get arrested or what to do if you’re facing criminal charges as an F-1 international student, make sure to talk to an immigration attorney. We handle these cases here at our office pretty frequently, but where ever you are in the United States, you do not want to do this alone. You should not rely solely on the advice of your criminal defense attorney. A good criminal defense attorney is going to tell you to consult with an immigration attorney. We’re always very happy when international students come to us from criminal defense attorneys because that tells us that the criminal defense attorney know what’s going on.

It’s so complicated to figure out what’s going to happen to the immigrant based on the criminal charges. Every time we get a case like this, we start at the beginning and we look at all possible defenses and all available relief. We encourage you to contact an immigration attorney if you’re facing a criminal situation like this. Don’t be ashamed, don’t be worried, it’s just a mistake, it’s not your whole life. It doesn’t define you. You really need to make sure that you do what you can to protect yourself from an immigration standpoint so hopefully you can continue going to school, complete your studies, and go on about your life. If you have any questions, give us a call. 314-961-8200. You can email us at Thanks.