What is Curricular Practical Training?
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a work authorization available to F-1 students to engage in paid or unpaid training opportunities off campus. These may include:
- Off-campus Course Project
- Cooperative Education
- Alternative work/study
- Any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.
The training must be an integral or important part of your program’s curriculum. CPT is only available to F-1 students during their program, and cannot be used after the completion of the program. Students interested in CPT should read all requirements below, then meet with their academic advisor to discuss whether CPT is available in their program. If CPT is available, see details below on eligibility requirements, how to apply for CPT authorization, and consequences for unauthorized employment.
Working without prior authorization, whether paid or unpaid, can result in automatic termination of your immigration status.
Training Eligibility Requirements
To apply for CPT, you must have a written offer for a specific training position. The training must be an integral or important part of your program of study. It also must meet one of the requirements below:
- If the training is a required training by your program (Required in this case means that all students in your current program must acquire off-campus work experience related to their field during the course.)
- If the training is not required by your program, you must receive academic credit for the training. This requires enrollment in a specific course that is a part of your degree program, identified by your academic advisor.
Student Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for CPT, you must maintain lawful F-1 status, and you must complete two semesters as a full-time student.
- If you are a graduate student and the training is a required part of your program, you may apply for CPT whenever your program requires participation, even if it is immediately at the beginning of the program.
- If CPT is not a required part of your program, you must still meet the aforementioned requirements as well as get academic credit for the opportunity.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT
Part-Time Training: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time CPT. The employment authorization on your I-20 will specify permission to engage in part-time training, and you must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT, but you must be enrolled full-time in school (unless it is summer vacation) during your training in order to maintain lawful F-1 status. Participation in part-time CPT does not affect your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Full-Time Training: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time CPT. The employment authorization on your I-20 will specify permission to engage in full-time training. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in full-time CPT, but if you participate for 12 months or more you will no longer be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Applying for CPT
When you use the form, you will first have five different options to choose from:
- General CPT:
- Receiving course credit concurrently with the CPT opportunity (proof of enrollment required).
- Receiving future course credit for the CPT opportunity (proof of enrollment or letter required).
- Satisfying other degree or course requirements (ex. off-campus work requirement for a class/thesis-dissertation/etc.).
- Course-Specific CPT:
- Satisfying an off-campus training requirement for a course project (Business School students).
- Satisfying a practicum for my MPH/MSPH/MPH&TM degree (APE).
- Satisfying a service learning requirement (undergraduates only).
General documents to prepare for upload:
Below are a list of documents that you might need to prepare for upload. Some might not apply to you based on what option you choose, so follow the instructions carefully. When you are ready to upload please make sure they're in PDF format and less than 5 MB per document.
- Recommendation for Curricular Practical Training from either your Academic Advisor, Department Chair, or Dean.
- The offer letter from the employer which specifies:
- The beginning and end-dates of the training experience.
- Whether the employment is full-time or part-time as defined above.
- The employer address.
- Note: You may use this sample template.
- If the employment is required by your degree program:
- You will need a written recommendation from your Academic Advisor or Dean stating that this is a required part of your program
- If the employment is not required by your degree program:
- You will need proof of registration for the appropriate class which you will be receiving credit for (independent study, etc.).
Other situation-specific documents to upload:
- For thesis/dissertation students: You can upload a letter from your supervisor/PI regarding the need for CPT.
- For business students with an off campus training requirement for a course project: We only need you to upload your practical experience CPT authorization form.
- For students who are in a class that requires off-campus experience: Please upload a copy of your syllabus or a letter from that specific department.
- For MPH/MSPH/MPH&TM (APE) degree-seeking students: We only need you to upload a practicum proposal with your faculty advisor's signature.
- For JD students: As 50 pro-bono hours are a mandatory part of the JD program, international students wishing to complete pro-bono hours do not need to receive course credit to authorize the CPT. However, your advisor must attest to the 50 pro-bono hours being a required part of the program on the CPT form.
- For LLM students: International students in the LLM program who wish to complete pro-bono hours or other experiential learning opportunities need to receive course credit. Proof of course registration must be submitted along with your CPT application. LLM F-1 students must have first completed one academic year as a full-time student before applying for CPT, or else complete their pro-bono hours in an on-campus position.
CPT applications are processed by the OISS, and take about 5 - 10 business days after the student submits all the required documents. Students approved for CPT will receive an I-20 printed with their authorized training dates and hours. Students cannot work before or after these authorized dates. Students may be granted multiple CPT authorizations during their program.
Consequences of Working Unauthorized:
Students who engage in off-campus work without prior authorization will be at risk for termination of their immigration record.
Immigration-related Impacts from F-1 Termination:
- Loss of legal status in U.S. as F-1 student
- Required immediate departure from U.S. with no grace period
- Possible denial of re-entry into U.S. by CBP
- Loss of time earned towards CPT/OPT eligibility
- Significant chance of denial on future visa applications or other immigration benefits