Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
The information on this posted page is designed to inform the F-1 student of guidelines and regulations that govern the application process for CPT.
If you are an F-1 student, you have the option of working in the United States by engaging in practical training during your program or after it ends. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school. There are two types of practical training available for F-1 students: curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT).
- CPT must relate to your major and the experience must be part of your program of study. This includes internship courses and cooperative education (CO-OP).
- When you enroll at the graduate level, your designated school official (DSO) may authorize CPT after one full academic year (Fall and Spring completion, Summer Semesters are not considered full semesters).
- The student cannot be enrolled in an intensive English language training class.
- An exception to the academic year rule is provided for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in CPT. The program requirement must be for all students in the program and should be listed on the program's website in the curriculum description.
- You can work on CPT either full-time or part-time.
- CPT is authorized only one semester at a time and cannot be granted retroactively. It must be recommended by the adviser and approved by the DSO before a student can report for CPT.
- Students are allowed to be enrolled part-time in their last term before program completion, but only if they receive Reduced Course Load (RCL) authorization from your DSO.
- If the fall or winter term during which you are engaged in CPT is not your last term of enrollment, you must be registered in full-time coursework, in addition to any CPT courses.
- To be approved, the academic adviser needs to confirm the work is "associated with the program's established curriculum" and describe how the work is directly relevant to the academic objectives of the class. The course must be related to a student's major program of study. The adviser must approve the application for CPT that is submitted to the DSO for approval.
- CPT can only be authorized until the end of your I-20 – make sure you do not request a start date that goes beyond your I-20 end date.
- CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from your employer.
- You will need to provide a start and end date of your employment term (must be within enrollment, before graduation date). Note: You are not able to extend time or start before the authorize start date.
- If you have 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop you from doing OPT.
- Your DSO will provide you a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” that shows that the DSO has approved you for this employment.
CPT can be full-time (>20 hours per week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week). Students registered for part-time CPT during a fall/spring semester must also be registered for a full course of study. Students engaged in part-time CPT during summer vacation do not need to be registered full-time for classes.
Students must be in legal status which includes, but is not limited to:
- Possess a valid passport/visa
- Possess a social security number
- Be registered as a full-time student each fall/spring semester.
- Have been in F-1 student status for at least one full academic year.
- CPT is authorized only one semester at a time and cannot be granted retroactively.
- CPT can only be used during a student’s program of study.
- Student must have been in lawful F-1 status for one full academic year (nine months) preceding the CPT application.
Exception: Graduate students whose degree program requires immediate participation in a practicum/internship may apply at any time.
- CPT is limited to the location and dates indicated by an offer letter from the organization where the student will be working. The student must make a new request prior to any changes or modifications in the CPT activities.
- CPT may not be used in the first semester unless it is mandatory part of your degree program as published in Academic Catalog or your course syllabus.
- CPT is not considered to be for the primary purpose of employment; rather, it is for the purpose of enhancement of one’s academic program.
- Except for students whose department requires a non-credit bearing practicum/internship, CPT must be credit bearing. A non-credit bearing practicum/internship requirement must be listed in the Academic Catalog as required for degree completion in order to be eligible for CPT. Each semester that a student is engaged in CPT, the student must be enrolled in a practicum/internship course or connect CPT to a relevant class being taken in that semester.
If the student would like to continue to work beyond the authorized semester, the student must apply for an extension of CPT in advance. Such students should contact their DSO for more details.
12 months of full-time CPT will make a student ineligible to apply for OPT at the same level.
For immigration purposes, Full Time CPT is 21 hours a week or more.
Note: No EAD carded is needed, your I-20 and I-94 is your proof of employment.
Students applying for CPT must be approved by the DSO. The documents below are required in the application process:
- CPT Checklist
- Course description and Job Description
- Advisor Completion Form/ Letter
- Job Offer Letter