Students who have the F-1 visa or visa status are allowed to take off-campus practical experience that is an integral part of their studies. They can get paid while getting this experience, but our office is required to collect proof of how the off-campus activity is integral to their program of study. This is called "curricular practical training" in gov. terminology, or CPT for short. It can include internships, student-teaching, nursing practicums, music students playing with off-campus orchestras, clinical hours, and co-ops.
Usually, the student also must show us an offer letter from the site, and a note, e-mail or form from their professor to prove that it is part of their studies. Almost always, we collect a course number as the direct proof that it is part of studies, but in the case of Music students and Law students – there is a different departmental expectation for all students to get off-campus experience in order to graduate.
So, if your department's co-ops have academic credit and specific course number, or if we have a written statement from advisor/professor working with the student that the co-op is an "integral part of the curriculum," then we can usually work the government policies to fit the student's academic experience goals for the semester.
A couple of other things – the student will still be required to attend full time classes in almost all cases. Exception to the full time class enrollment rules include: Summer, Winter Break, or the post-classroom dissertation-only phase, (including thesis-only or final-project-only, or for Psych & Counseling students, practicum-only) phase of studies after all regular classroom hours are done.
Generally speaking, the students are eligible for 20 hours per week employment (all
in total, both on- and off- campus).
Dissertation-only students, Summer students, as noted above can potentially work 40 hours per week at the internship or co-op.