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Immigration applications
Ryan ZhangJun 13, 2024 10:42:27 AM5 min read

Day 1 CPT and RFE: What Should You be Prepared for

Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

It is crucial to start this article by addressing something everyone has been asking — "If I do Day 1 CPT, will I get RFE?." It is hard to respond it into a yes or no fashion. However, to put things into perspective, let's first address what an RFE is, and why RFE.

 

What is an RFE?

An RFE (Request for Evidence) is a formal notice from the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) asking for more information or documents to make a decision on your application or petition. Think of it as a way for US immigration officers to say: "We need more details to fully understand your case." Receiving an RFE is not necessarily bad. You're not getting the denial/rejection for the application; it just means they need additional information to move forward. In other words, they count on you to provide information they need.

Source: USCIS Website

Based on previous students' experiences, the H1B RFE pass rate is higher than 90%. The common myth is that when you do Day 1 CPT, there is a higher chance that you will get an RFE and even a denial. But that rarely happens. 

Some students obtain their H1B visas without getting an RFE, see: From Day 1 CPT to H1B: A Chinese Student's Success Story.

 

Types of RFE

So, the immigration officer is counting on you to deliver the evidence that can get you approved. What requests would they actually send to you?
Common RFE request categories include:

  • Specialty Occupation: Evidence that the job qualifies as a specialty occupation requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific field.
  • Employer-Employee Relationship: Evidence that there is a real employment relationship between you and your employer.
  • Beneficiary’s Qualifications: Proof that the beneficiary meets the educational and experiential requirements for the specialty occupation.
  • Maintenance of Status: For beneficiaries already in the U.S., evidence that they have maintained their current status.

For Day 1 CPT students, the most frequently requested evidence is your maintenance of status proof. You need to make sure that you fulfill the academic requirements of your Day 1 CPT programs. You may also be asked to provide information on specialty occupation and beneficiary's qualifications as well.

 

Real Case

Take Shankar, a previous student of Westcliff University, as an example. He received an RFE about maintenance of status and was requested to provide evidence on two aspects: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and full course of study. This type of RFE asks you to justify that you have been maintaining your F-1 student status rightfully.

Thankfully, Shankar's international advisor and academic advisor at the time were helpful and provided speedy supports to help him put together the whole RFE response package. Shankar submitted the response only 1 week after getting the RFE, and got approved on the next day.

 

Evidence Required for Proving the Legitimacy of CPT 

  • A list of all your CPT courses, including the course descriptions and numbers;

  • An official statement on CPT being an integral part of the program learning. (provided by university);

  • An official statement on CPT and your selected major/concentration being an integral part of completing the academic degree (provided by university);

  • An employment relationship statement, including job description, salary and employment period (provided by your employer);

  • A CPT agreement or  a "CPT verification letter" that you usually forward to your employer to sign before applying for CPT.

  • Additional evidence on your CPT employment: statement on how you gained the employment; or evidence supporting that your CPT employment is directly related to course of major.

 

Evidence Required for Proving the Maintenance of F-1 Status

  • Official Transcript: Take Westcliff University as an example, you need to fill out an online application form and the department will issue transcript (provided by university);

  • Study Plan: You need to submit documents showing the progress of your study. You could consult with your academic advisor for this (provided by university);

  • Tuition payment proof: You should be able to find it in your email inbox. If you are a Westcliff University student, you should be able to find it in your email inbox, or download from the SIS.

  • Proof of student status: For example, your students ID. You might not get your student ID automatically in a hybrid professional program. You may need to contact the admissions to apply for an electronic or a physical student ID. For example, Westcliff University students can contact administrativesupport@westcliff.edu for the student ID.

  • Course materials: Simply look for syllabuses of all the courses you have completed. If you couldn't find one, reach out to previous professors or academic advisors.

  • Proof of on-site attendance: Any documentations, photos and screenshots proving you physically attended mandatory in-person classes on campus and completed all required activities. You can do this in two parts. Gather evidence on your own side, including flight confirmations, hotel confirmations, purchases or dining receipts in university area, photos of your on-campus attendances. The second part is proof from the university side. Day 1 CPT universities are required to closely keep track of students attendance records. They will usually have you sign the attendance forms, before, during and after the on-site courses. If you're a Westcliff University student, you can download them directly through SIS.

  • Proof of residency in the U.S.: Evidence supporting you were residing in your U.S. address during your study. You can provide utility bills or rental documentations.

 

Conclusion

While RFEs can be scary, it is not necessary to be overly panic about it. The rejection rate is extremely low once you provided additional evidence to support your case. By preparing thoroughly and maintaining your student status correctly, you can navigate through an RFE smoothly. This guide serves as a comprehensive reference to help you gather the necessary evidence to address an RFE effectively. Staying organized and proactive in your documentation will greatly enhance your chances of approval!

 

Relevant Readings:

Is Day 1 CPT Legal?

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