Curricular Practical Training For F-1 Students
Frequently Asked Questions
The most recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) regulations governing Curricular Practical Training (CPT) took effect on January 1, 2003. These regulations apply to all students in F-1 status.
Q: What is CPT - Curricular Practical Training?
A: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that is an integral part of an established curriculum. CPT is defined to be alterative work/study, internship, or cooperative education arranges with the approval of your program, or any type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements. CPT may take place during the academic year and/or in the summer and must be undertaken prior to the completion of a course of study. Because USCIS uses a broad definition of employment, any activity for which a student receives a benefit, monetary or otherwise, even unpaid internships require CPT authorization.
Q: When do I need authorization for CPT?
A: You must have authorization from ISSO before you begin a paid or unpaid internship or any other form of CPT. As an F-1 student, your employment cannot begin until you receive your SEVIS I-20 with the CPT endorsement
Any internship, paid or unpaid, must be authorized before you begin the placement!
Beginning CPT without proper authorization is a violation of immigration regulations and will have serious consequences.
Q: When is CPT required and when is it recommended?
A: CPT may be required or recommended. This is decided by the stated requirements of an academic degree.
* CPT is required when it is a required part of the curriculum; it should be mentioned in the section of the College catalog, which describes the Department’s requirements and course offerings. All students in that degree program are required to complete an internship or practicum.
* CPT is recommended when it is beneficial for the student to engage in the employment experience but the experience is not necessary for the completion of the degree. A student authorized for recommended CPT is required by current immigration regulations to register for a minimum of 1 college credit, which reflects the CPT placement; the academic department for each semester of the CPT placement, including summer semester, must grant this credit.
Q: Who is eligible for CPT?
A: Students in F-1 status must have been enrolled in school on a full time basis for at least one full academic year (2 semesters) before becoming eligible for practical training. CPT must be undertaken prior to the completion of a course of study. In addition, you must meet your programs requirements for eligibility to enroll in an internship course. Check with your academic department or the Office of Career Development and Internships for eligibility.
Q: How much CPT can I do and still be eligible for Optional Practical Training?
A: Student that accrues more than 365 days of full time CPT becomes ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Please note the “365 Day Rule” ONLY applies to full time CPT. Most students will never reach this limit and ISSO will notify students that approach the limit for guidance.
Q: How many hours can I work per week?
A: F-1 students can work up to 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters and full time during annual break.
Q: Is there a fee for CPT?
A: There is no fee to apply for CPT. Processing is done in our office. Once you have submitted all required documents, it may take up to 5 business days to complete process of approval and a new SEVIS I-20.
Q: What paperwork is required?
A: The following 3 items are needed to process an application for CPT:
1 - Completed Faculty Advisors Recommendation Form for CPT (if pursuing a departmental internship).
Completed package from the Office of Career Development and Internships
(if pursuing the World of Work internship course).
2 - Offer Letter from employer on the official company letterhead:
- The starting and ending dates of employment
- Number of hours per week
- A brief description of duties to be performed
3 - Proof that you have registered for the internship course
Once the CPT application is complete, the ISSO will update the SEVIS record and print a copy of the student’s SEVIS I-20 authorizing CPT with that employer only. You must have a CPT endorsement before you begin employment.
Q: If I get a new position, or I need work for an additional period of time, do I need to do a new CPT application?
A: New application is required if there is a change of employers or if the employment is to be continued beyond the current ending date.