The US Department of Homeland Security regulations state that Curricular Practical Training (CPT) must be "an integral part of an established curriculum." They define curricular practical training as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." Thus, CPT for F-1 students is intended to provide work experience in situations where the work serves as an integral part of a student's academic program, prior to completion of that program.
The student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year before being eligible for CPT. An exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in an internship, a practicum, or other employment. It is available only while the student is in valid F-1 status and before the completion of his/her program. Students in English language programs are not eligible for CPT. If the student had a gap in study or a status violation, the one academic year waiting period may need to be recalculated once the student has again obtained valid F-1 status.
The Office of International Programs (OIP) can authorize CPT if it can be clearly documented that the proposed employment meets one of the two conditions below.
- The training employment is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree. Included in this category is employment in a required internship or practicum.
- The training employment will result in the awarding of academic credit. Included in this category is employment for a course specifically designed to award academic credit for an employment experience. This may include graduate students in dissertation/thesis status where the training opportunity is an integral component of the student's dissertation/thesis. In both of these cases, you must register and complete the CPT-related course during the semester that you are working under CPT authorization. For example, if you will be working in the summer, you must register and complete the CPT-related course in the same summer semester.
Immigration regulations do not allow OIP to approve CPT for employment that is:
- "highly recommended"
- "a great opportunity"
- for financial purposes or gain
If the reason for this training meets one the reasons above, other type of employment should be pursued such as:
- Employment Based on Financial Hardship (inquire at the OIP)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
If CPT is for your last semester, you must have at least one other remaining degree-required course for which to register, in addition to the CPT course unless the CPT course is the degree-required course.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT
During the school year while classes are in session, students can engage in CPT on a part-time basis, limited to no more than 20 hours per week.
A student can engage in full-time CPT during official University breaks and vacation. Full-time CPT allows the student to work more than 20 hours per week. If you participate in 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training, you will not be eligible for post-completion optional practical training (OPT).
Application and Documentation Requirements
If you are unsure about your eligibility for CPT, you should make an appointment with the Office of International Programs (if possible, please bring any of the documents listed below to the initial consultation). To apply for CPT, you must make an appointment with the Office of International Programs and bring the following documents with you:
- Copy of your official offer letter on company letterhead that is signed by the prospective employer. A photocopy is acceptable. The letter should include the employer's name, full address, dates of employment, and duties.
- A CPT Recommendation Form completed by your academic advisor.
- Copies of your current immigration documents: passport (biographical data, photo, & expiration date pages), front and back of I-94 card, and I-20(s).
If you are eligible and have the documentation required for CPT, the OIP will authorize CPT by issuing a new I-20. Processing time is 3 business days. You may engage in CPT employment only after you have received the I-20 with your CPT authorization from OIP. This work authorization is valid only for the specific employer, location, time period and on a part-time or full-time basis as approved and recorded by the OIP as evidenced on your I-20 issued for CPT. You may not continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your permission to work from Office of International Programs. To do so would be a violation of your non-immigrant student status, and such violation would jeopardize your ability to remain in the US.