Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is only available to F-1 visa students who are and have been lawfully enrolled as a full-time student for at least nine consecutive months (The only exception is for graduate students who must begin a required practicum or internship immediately upon entering their Program of Study).
Curricular Practical Training refers to employment that is related to a student’s major field of study and is required as part of the student’s degree program, is necessary to fulfill a course requirement, or otherwise is an integral component of the student's curriculum for which academic credit is required.
CPT can be authorized for part-time employment (20 hours per week or less) or full-time employment (more than 20 hours per week). Students who accumulate one year or more of full-time CPT are not eligible for Optional Practical Training (a separate program), which is usually authorized after the completion of a degree program. Authorization for CPT must be renewed each semester a student wishes to continue employment. (Students are only allowed to work 20 hours/week when they are enrolled full-time.) Summer internships may be 40 hours/week. The physical location of employment may not exceed a radius of 1-1.5 hour(s) drive time from the University (except in summer).
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment benefit which allows eligible F-1 international students to gain valuable work experience in their field, usually following the completion of their program (or coursework for their program, in the case of graduate students in a dissertation or thesis period). To qualify, international students need to have been enrolled full-time for a minimum period of one academic year.
F-1 Curricular Practical Training Questions and Answers
When can a student apply for this benefit?
At least 10 business days prior to the start date of employment.
The University Career Center requires 5 business days to review work authorization requests from the date the student accurately completes their submission in Hire-A-Niner. The International Student and Scholar Office will require an additional 5 business days (for a total of 10 business days) to review and approve a student's opportunity and issue a new I-20 or DS-2019.
What documents does a student need to present to apply for this benefit?
- A written job offer letter containing the prospective CPT employer’s name, CPT job title, semester start and end dates of employment, number of hours, and physical location of employment. (Must be on company letterhead.)
- A "Curricular Practical Training Approval Request Form" completed and signed by the students’ academic and/or internship advisor, depending on the requirements of the College/Department and nature of the CPT assignment.
When can students begin work?
Students may begin work only after they have followed the “CPT via the University Career Center” employment confirmation process and obtained written permission (I-20 authorization) from the Associate Director for the International Students and Scholars Office. CPT authorization cannot be backdated, and working prior to obtaining approval is a violation of status. If you work illegally, you must leave the United States, re-enter as an F-1 student, and wait nine months before becoming eligible for employment benefits, such as Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training.
How long can a student work in curricular practical training?
It depends. There is no upper limit on part-time Curricular Practical Training, but any student who works full-time CPT for 12 months or longer is not eligible for Optional Practical Training.
Must a student work for the same employer during the entire period of my CPT?
Changing employers while on Curricular Practical Training requires submission of a new application through the “CPT via the University Career Center” employment confirmation process and final approval from the Associate Director for the International Students and Scholars Office.
Where can employers direct students for full instructions on the “CPT via the University Career Center” approval process?
Students should be directed to the “CPT via the UCC” website for thorough instructions. They are encouraged to carefully read and engage the approval process, as all questions will be answered through these instructions.