F-1 Curricular Practical Training

As an F-1 student, you can seek authorization for practical training to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience directly related to your field of study.  This experience can be paid or unpaid.

Regulations state that Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work that is “an integral part of an established curriculum” and “directly relates to the student’s major area of study.” This type of work can be: alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.

8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)(i)

Training that is not required by your degree program may meet the requirement for CPT if you receive academic credit for the employment experience and it is an important part of your studies.

1. You MUST have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year before being eligible for CPT.

a. If you had a gap in study (Leave of Absence) or a status violation, the one academic year waiting period may need to be recalculated once you have again obtained valid F-1 status.

b. The exception is for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in an internship, a practicum, or other employment.

2. CPT is available only while you are in valid F-1 status and before the completion of your program.

3. Students must continue to be enrolled for a full course of study during the CPT.

4. CPT taken with academic year coursework must be approved at the beginning of the semester in which the course is taken. The CPT must also be completed during the same semester.

5. CPT taken without coursework does not sustain F-1 nonimmigrant status, except in the case of doctoral students. If you are a Master's Degree student, you must take 3 credits of coursework (or more, depending on your school's policy) along with the CPT.

6. You may engage in curricular practical training only after your SEVIS record has been updated by an ISS adviser and a SEVIS I-20 has been printed, indicating the approved employment. The endorsement will indicate the precise details of the authorized training, including the name and location of the employer, the specific dates of the training period, and whether it is full-time or part-time.

7. Students in English Language Programs (ELI) are not eligible for CPT.

Part-time CPT:
Employment for 20 hours or less per week while you are also enrolled for classes is considered “part-time” curricular practical training. The employment authorization written on the student's I-20ID (Student) Copy should therefore 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 upon the length of time you may participate in part-time curricular practical training, but you must be simultaneously enrolled full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.

Full-time CPT:
Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered “full-time” curricular practical training and the employment authorization on your I-20ID (Student) Copy should, in this case, specify permission to participate in “full-time” training. While in full-time training, you need not be enrolled for classes, if your program of study requires an internship in order to maintain lawful F-1 status. If an internship is not listed in your program requirements, you need to be enrolled for internship credit hours. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in full-time curricular practical training, but if you participate for twelve months or more, you will not be eligible for post-completion practical training

In order to obtain permission for CPT, you must submit the following documents to a DSO in ISS:

1. A letter from your academic advisor describing the following things:

a. why the CPT experience is a necessary part of your academic program

i. If the work is not part of your academic program, an advisors letter is still required. This letter must state that you are receiving credit for the experience even though it is not a part of your academic program.

b. the number of credit hours you will receive for the experience

c. course number

See Sample Advisor Letter

2. A letter from the potential employer outlining:

a. The specific job duties

b. Exact beginning and end dates of employment

c. The location of employment along with the address

See Sample Employer Letter

3. Proof of registration for internship credit hours

Upon receipt of these documents, ISS will evaluate your eligibility and notify you of the decision. If approved, page three of your I-20 will be updated with the work authorization. You may not begin employment until your request has been approved by a DSO and your I-20 has been updated with the work authorization. Also, you must not continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your permission to work from a DSO.