Curricular Practical Training
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization granted to F-1 students by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).
- Temporary employment includes internship, practicum, student teaching, field experience, professional practice, and directed project that are an integral part of an established curriculum.
- CPT must relate directly to the student's major area of study and be an integral part of an established curriculum, which means practical training must be required by the curriculum or, if not required, the student must receive credit for the training.
- CPT can be authorized for part-time (20 hours a week or less) or full-time employment (more than 20 hours a week).
- CPT must occur before a student's program end date on the I-20.
- CPT must be renewed each semester unless the practical training is required and approved for multiple semesters.
- Students are only authorized to work during the approved CPT Start and End Dates.
- CPT Start and End Dates must follow the academic semester.
- Once the requirements for your program of study have been completed all CPT must cease. You cannot participate in CPT after completion of your studies.
- CPT authorization cannot exceed the last day of the semester in the student's graduating semester. When a student graduates their SEVIS record is shortened to the last day of the semester. Work authorization after this date is only permitted with OPT.
- Students who accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT are not eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
- Students may only work for the employer listed on the I-20.
- Student can have more than one CPT authorization at the same time. However, CPT authorization is needed for each employer and each time period.
- There is no restriction on compensation during CPT.
Eligibility Requirements for CPT:
- Must have been enrolled for one academic year, (Fall & Spring) before being eligible for CPT.
- Exception: Graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in CPT.
- Must maintain full-time enrollment status during the fall and spring semester.
- Exception: Approved Reduced Course Load for less than full-time enrollment.
- A student in her/his final semester must be enrolled in a required course that is applicable to her/his degree program.
- Student must maintain continuous enrollment in a course that requires CPT during the entire semester for which CPT is authorized. Failure to maintain enrollment in the CPT designated course will result in the termination of the student's CPT work authorization and the student will no longer be permitted to legally work.
- If you are participating in CPT in your final semester and you will be enrolled less than full-time you must also submit a Reduced Course Load.
How to Apply for CPT:
- Submit the following documents to ISSS using the button below.
- Signed CPT Form acknowledging you will receive academic credit from CPT (Download CPT Packet)
- Job Offer Letter from the company who you will be working for
- Class Schedule showing registration in a course that requires CPT
- Reduced Course Load Form (only if this is your final semester and you will be enrolled less than full-time)
- A DSO will create a new CPT I-20 with approved work authorization dates. Once the I-20 is available, you are responsible for picking up the new CPT I-20 at ISSS.
- Students who do not have a social security card should review the information below on how to obtain a social security number.
CPT approval process will take 1-3 business days.
CPT authorization is strongly recommended for all unpaid internships, whether the student does or does not need to provide employment authorization documents to the company. The F-1 regulations are written in such a way that CPT is an authorization to do practical training as part of the curriculum for the academic program, and as such is significant in more ways than simply for the employer to verify employment eligibility. CPT authorization is more than just permission to get paid.
You should have CPT authorization for unpaid internships for the following reasons:
- CPT authorization by the university serves to demonstrate that this practical experience is part of the curriculum.
- CPT authorization is a way of reporting in SEVIS the student's activity, employment, and location where they are working and therefore maintaining their status.
- If ever a student is doing a job on an unpaid basis that someone would be hired and paid for, employment authorization in the form of CPT, OPT, etc. is advised.
- If the unpaid internship at some point changes into a paid one (or if your employer decides to compensate you for your work in any way – for example, give you a monetary gift), you won’t be able to accept the payment if your internship was not authorized as CPT. Please keep in mind that F-1 students cannot be retroactively remunerated or in any way compensated for work done in an unpaid internship if they did not obtain work authorization prior to when the work was performed.
The following six criteria must be met for an internship to be considered a legitimate unpaid internship (and not employment below minimum wage, in violation of Department of Labor laws):
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation on the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship
No, CPT and OPT are not interchangeable. CPT accommodates individuals enrolled in a program of study that requires participation in an internship or practicum. It is not a supplemental training experience but rather an “integral part of an established curriculum” meaning it is a required part of the degree or program of study. The regulation makes this clear by defining CPT as an “internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum….” In contrast, OPT accommodates students who have fulfilled the requirements of an academic or vocational program and provides an opportunity to augment the student’s learning with real-world experience.
Federal regulations require CPT to be directly related to a student’s major area of study. This means CPT cannot be authorized based on a student’s minor or general graduation credits. CPT participation may only be approved if the training opportunity is directly related to the major program of study.
Does a student need to receive authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to participate in CPT?
No; however, a student’s DSO must authorize CPT in SEVIS. Please note that SEVIS will not allow DSOs to backdate the authorization.
Can a student begin participating in CPT while waiting on their school official to authorize the training in SEVIS?
No; a student’s DSO must authorize the student’s CPT in SEVIS before the student can participate. Participating in practical training without the necessary authorization could violate the student's status.
Please bring the following documents to apply for a social security number (SSN) at the Social Security Administration Office:
- I-94 (print your I-94 here)
- Most recent I-20
- Hiring Letter (If you employer needs more information on hiring an international student or a hiring letter template, visit here.)
Click to locate a Social Security Administration Office near you.
No. The Department of Homeland Security grants DSOs in ISSS permission to provide work authorization to F-1 students.
Visit the Social Security Administration Office with your approved CPT I-20, passport, visa, I-94, enrollment letter from ISSS, and hiring letter.
12 months of full-time CPT disqualifies an F-1 student from OPT eligibility.
Yes, F-1 status is not dependent on the validity of the visa. The I-20 dictates your status in the US.
This depends on your degree program requirements and your department’s approval.
Yes; however, a separate CPT authorization is needed for each employer and each CPT segment.
There is no waiting period like OPT. Students can apply once obtaining all required documents.
10) Practical training. Practical training may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis, in a SEVIS-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year. This provision also includes students who, during their course of study, were enrolled in a study abroad program, if the student had spent at least one full academic term enrolled in a full course of study in the United States prior to studying abroad. A student may be authorized 12 months of practical training, and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training. An eligible student may request employment authorization for practical training in a position that is directly related to his or her major area of study. There are two types of practical training available: Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training.
(i) Curricular practical training. An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. Students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion academic training. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in curricular practical training. A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to the DSO. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her Form I-20 with the DSO endorsement.