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F-1 Curricular practical training (CPT)


International Student and Scholar Services now offers our CPT workshop online. You can access the pre-recorded workshop by using the button below. The workshop lasts approximately 15 minutes.

CPT online workshop

Still have questions after watching the online workshop? We've got answers! Join one of our Virtual Office Hours through Zoom! Visit the ISSS Calendar for the full list of sessions offered.

What is CPT?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may be authorized under certain circumstances to allow F-1 students temporary off-campus employment. Such employment must be directly related to a student's major field of study and an integral or important part of the program of study

Reasons for CPT

  • Training which is required by the degree program always meets the requirements for CPT, regardless of whether or not academic credit is received for the work
  • Training which is not required by the degree program may meet the requirements if the student registers for a class with a formal work component as listed in the Programs of Study catalogue
  • Training which is not required by the degree program may meet the requirements if the student registers for a thesis research class and the employment is directly related to the student's thesis topic or area or research

CPT is authorized by ISSS upon receipt of the proper application materials, which are outlined below.

  • F-1 students who have completed one full academic year (consecutive Fall and Spring) of full-time study immediately prior to the semester of their requested CPT work authorization. This requirement is waived for graduate students in a program that requires immediate internship participation.
  • CPT occurs during the course of the student's program of study.

**For academic year 2021-2022, please see the following additional information from the SEVP guidance:

Does time spent studying outside of the United States during the COVID-19 emergency count toward the one-year requirement for CPT and OPT? An F student accrues eligibility for practical training whether they are inside or outside of the United States during the COVID-19 emergency if the student is in Active status in SEVIS and meets the requirements of their school’s procedural change plans submitted to SEVP. Students must be in F-1 status for a FULL two semesters in order to be eligible.

  • Part-time CPT is 20 hours a week or less
  • Full-time CPT is more than 20 hours per week
  • Generally, students are limited to part-time CPT (20 hours or less per week); if student will also hold on-campus employment while pursuing part-time CPT, the total combined hours cannot exceed 20 hours per week
    • Students who will hold on-campus employment and CPT employment and whose total combined hours will exceed 20 hours per week should speak to ISSS first

Full-time CPT eligibility depends on a number of variables. Please view the CPT workshop and discuss possible full-time CPT opportunities with your department and ISSS.

If a student participates in twelve months or more of full-time CPT, they will lose eligibility to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completion of studies. Participation in part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for post-completion OPT.

IMPORTANT: ISSS recommends CPT/OPT for all internships, paid or unpaid.

Charitable work that DOES NOT need CPT:

  • Non-profit work.
  • Work for a volunteer food bank.

Civic purpose that DOES NOT need CPT:

  • Work for state or local government agencies must have a civic purpose.

“For-profit” private employers must meet the Department of Labor’s “Six Factor Test” in order for internship to be unpaid*:

  1. Similar to training that would be given in an educational environment, rather than the work of regular employees.
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  4. 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 “pest test”).
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
  • CPT usually requires course registration as indicated in the CPT application form for the semester in which CPT occurs (summer included). Independent Study courses are not appropriate for CPT registration.
  • CPT authorization cannot be backdated. Please make sure your CPT work dates are in the future.
  • You are only authorized to work on CPT for the dates listed on your new I-20 (2nd page). You cannot start your CPT employment without having the I-20 in hand. The employment must also end on the date specified on your CPT I-20.
  • CPT authorization can only be given for 1 year at a time.
  • If you wish to change employers or dates of employment while on CPT you must submit a new CPT application form through iSTART.
  • Students who are pursuing CPT because it is directly related to their thesis research must have the following included in their application:

    • Thesis topic and/or title on the CPT application form and the second approver must include an explanation for.
    • Why/how the CPT training is necessary for their thesis research.

    In addition, students must work with their home department regarding their registration policies for 599 credit hours being used (or not used) for CPT

  • CPT in a student's final semester:
    • PART-TIME OR FULL-TIME CPT FOR THESIS TRACK STUDENTS IN FINAL SEMESTER: Allowed, if directly related to thesis (Only part-time allowed if registering for 599 thesis research course).
    • PART-TIME OR FULL-TIME CPT FOR UNDERGRADUATES AND NON-THESIS TRACK GRADUATE STUDENTS IN THE FINAL SEMESTER: Allowed only if student will also be completing other credits needed for graduation in the same semester. Will not be allowed for students who have already met their credit requirements for graduation.

If you believe you have an employment opportunity that qualifies for CPT,

  • Meet with your academic/thesis advisor to discuss.
    • If your advisor believes the employment is an integral and/or important part of your program of study, the next step will be for you to complete the CPT application form. Once you complete the form, a notification will be sent to your academic advisor by email with instructions and a link to submit their section of the application.
    • Make sure all sections of the CPT application form are completed correctly before submitting to ISSS. ISSS will not accept incomplete/incorrect application forms.
    • After you have submitted the form and it has been approved by your advisor, it will take ISSS 5 business days to approve the CPT and create the new I-20. Please make sure you give yourself plenty of time before employment begins to submit the application.

CPT approval is not guaranteed. Each application is evaluated based on its own merits, and even if you believe your application includes all the requested information, ISSS could still deny your application or request further clarification.

CPT Application Form