Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a benefit of F-1 Status. As defined by USCIS, CPT must be an “an integral part of an established curriculum.” As such, CPT is work experience which is required to complete one’s degree program or must offer credit that will count towards a student’s degree requirements. This may include internships, cooperative education programs, research or independent study.
- Be in lawful F-1 status and have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year prior to the proposed CPT start date. (Graduate students enrolled in a program which require immediate participation in CPT are exempt from this requirement.)
- Be majoring in a field of study which requires the proposed internship/employment.
- Have a job offer.
OIS can authorize CPT if it can be clearly documented that the proposed employment is directly related to the major and meets one of the two conditions below:
The training employment is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree.
- Included in this category is employment in a required internship or practicum.
- This requirement must be formally documented in school publications/course catalog.
The training employment will result in the awarding of academic credit.
- Included in this category is employment for a course specifically designed to award academic credit for an employment experience.
- This may include graduate students in dissertation/thesis status where the training opportunity is an integral component of the student’s dissertation/thesis.
- In both of these cases, you must register and complete the CPT-related course during the semester that you are working under CPT authorization. For example, if you will be working in the summer, you must register and complete the CPT-related course in the same summer semester.
Can CPT be authorized for either part-time or full-time?
- Yes. CPT may be either part- or full-time. While school is in session, students may work 20 hours or less per week. Full-time CPT is anything more than 20 hours per week.
- You may engage in full-time CPT during official University breaks and vacation. A PhD student can also engage in full-time CPT during his /her dissertation and CPT authorization ends when the student defends dissertation.
Do I have to register for classes during CPT?
- If you engage in part-time CPT during the academic year (spring and fall semesters), you are required to enroll in a full course of study.
- Full-time CPT does not require you to enroll in a full course of study. However, you may need to register for an internship/research course during the CPT period depending on the basis of your CPT authorization.
- If CPT is for your last semester, you must have at least one other remaining degree-required course for which to register, in addition to the CPT course unless the CPT course is the degree-required course. Graduate students working on their thesis/dissertation may be exempt from this requirement on a case-by-case basis.
- Program extensions will not be granted only for the purpose of working with CPT.
Will CPT affect my OPT eligibility?
- Part-time CPT does not affect your OPT eligibility. However, students who have engaged in 12 months or more of full-time CPT are not eligible for OPT at the same educational level.
CPT can be authorization for paid or non-paid work experiences. If you are being paid, within three days of your start date, you and your employer will complete an Employment Eligibility Verification form (I-9), which the employer keeps. You must show your passport and your I-20 with the CPT authorization on page 2 at the time you complete the I-9. You will also need a Social Security Number (SSN). See the OIS if you have not applied for the SSN already.
CPT authorization does not require a fee, however enrolling in a course over the summer or other registration requirements for the university may require a university tuition fee.
While you are authorized to engage in CPT, since you are in F-1 status, the income you derive from practical training is exempt from social security taxes and withholding for social security purposes if you have been in the United States for less than five years. If you have been in the U.S. for more than five years you will be required to pay social security taxes. Whether or not you are liable for the payment of income taxes on income earned from practical training depends upon your individual situation and tax status. Most F-1 students who earn income from practical training will pay federal and state income taxes. However, we advise that you seek the resources of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for particulars. You should consult the IRS Publication 519: U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens and Publication 515: Withholding of Tax on Non-Resident Aliens & Foreign Corporations for clarification of your tax status. These can be found on-line at www.irs.gov.
CPT is date specific and employer specific.
If you decide to extend your internship, you must receive a new authorization for CPT from the OIS. If you decide to change employers for your internship, you must also obtain a new authorization. Both would entail the same process as your initial authorization. If you fail to obtain proper authorization prior to beginning or extending your work experience, you will violate your student status.
Practical Training Authorization Process:
- The deadline to apply for CPT is one week prior to the start of each semester. (Students applying for CPT during Summer Session must apply one week prior to the start of the Summer Term ).
- If all required documents for your CPT application are in order (see CPT Application Instructions), your advisor will evaluate your application and, if approved, authorize your CPT by submitting it to SEVIS electronically. Once you receive your new I-20, you are authorized for CPT.
- You are required to apply for a new CPT I-20 for each new employment. You must also apply for a new CPT if your employment carries over from one semester to another.
- You are required to register for corresponding credit(s) each semester that you apply for CPT and for each new employment.
CPT Application Instructions
- Make an appointment with your international student advisor.
- Gather the following documents and bring them to your appointment.
- Job Offer Letter and/or “Employer’s Certification for CPT Authorization” form.
- The “Academic Advisor’s Certification for Curricular Practical Training”, signed by your undergraduate Dean or your Graduate Program Director.
- An unofficial full transcript (web download is acceptable) that bears your name and includes the course or research credit(s) covering your CPT
- Valid passport and I-94.