Curricular practical training, or CPT, is a type of off-campus work authorization for F-1 students during their academic program (prior to graduation). CPT is defined in the federal regulations 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. CPT is an integral part of an established curriculum."
Because CPT is defined as "curricular," only work that is directly related to a student's major field of study, and which is important for a student's academic progress, may be considered for approval.
Basic Eligibility Requirements:
To be eligible to apply for CPT, students must
- Currently be in F-1 status
- Have been enrolled in a full course of study for at least one academic year (exceptions may be made for students in graduate programs requiring off-campus work during the first year of study)
- Plan to be enrolled through the duration of the CPT
- Have an off-campus job offer, such as an internship
Training which is required by your degree program as stated in the course catalog always meets the requirements for CPT.
Training which is not required by your degree program may meet the requirements for CPT if you receive academic credit for the training experience, and your academic advisor can verify that it is an integral part of your established curriculum still in progress.
To ascertain that the CPT is an integral part of the established curriculum, the student must be enrolled for a designated internship course or independent study course specifically designed for this CPT. Student must register and complete the CPT related course during the semester that they are authorized for CPT.
If the work to be done on CPT is in the student's field of study but is “optional” rather than “curricular,” the student may meet the eligibility requirements for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and should apply for that instead. Please see OPT guidelines for additional information).
After filling out Section 1 of the CPT application form, you should meet with your academic advisor to have him/her complete Section 2 (you may not fill out this section yourself). Your advisor will help you determine the appropriate CPT course credit in which you should be enrolled, and which will be listed on the page 2 of the application form.
Once your application is complete, visit an Immigration Coordinator during ISS's advising hours with the following documents:
- Your current Form I-20
- I-94 card (paper or electronic)
- Job Offer Letter, containing the following details:
- Job title and brief job description
- Exact dates of employment
- Number of hours of work per week
- Physical place of employment
- Printed on official business letterhead
You must apply at least five business days before your requested CPT start date, and you may only begin work on CPT after receiving your new Form I-20, showing the CPT authorization on page 3.
We recommend that you apply for CPT prior to the start date of the term in which you will be working, so as to avoid late fees for your CPT course enrollment.
Additionally, please note that:
- CPT may only be authorized for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the academic year
- Students may work full time (beyond 20 hours per week) under the following circumstances:
- During official breaks, such as winter or spring break
- During an authorized summer vacation term
- During the academic year, if the work is necessary for a graduate student done with all coursework to complete thesis or dissertation requirements (in this case, the work performed on CPT must yield data, which is necessary to complete the thesis or dissertation)
- CPT may be authorized on a per-semester basis only. If your position will last more than one academic term, you must submit new application materials before the start of the new term