Curricular Practical Training is work (paid or unpaid) that forms a part of an established curriculum and is expected of all students who are completing a specific program. Because it is part of the educational program, the U.S. government allows F-1 students to participate even though their visa status does not normally permit off-campus employment.
Applying for CPT is a fairly simple process, does not require any fee, and can be completed on campus, but there are some conditions and limitations:
- You must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year (unless you are in a graduate program that requires immediate curricular training).
- It is available only while you are in F-1 status.
- It is not available to students in English language training programs
- It requires a specific employer and location and is effective only during the period approved and recorded by a DSO in SEVIS
- It must be an integral part of an established curriculum in your course of study.
- The work must fulfill the requirements for the course.
- You must receive written authorization from a DSO before the work begins.
- You must continue to maintain a full course of study during the employment period.
There is no specified limit on either the number of times or the length of time a student may engage in either part-time or full-time curricular practical training. This is governed by the nature of the training and the requirements of the student’s program. However, use of full-time CPT for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) (link to Optional Practical Training doc). Use of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.
Students interested in obtaining authorization for CPT should:
- Register for a course in your program of study that has an internship component.
- Talk with your instructor about the kind of placement that will fulfill the requirements of the course.
- Request from the prospective employer a letter describing the work that you will do.
- Take the letter to your instructor, along with the Curricular Practical Training Request form and obtain your instructor’s signature.
- Take a copy of the employer letter and the CPT Request form to the Office of International Student Services for authorization and registration in SEVIS.
- Obtain a new Form I-20 showing the CPT authorization to show to your employer.