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International students posing for picture in downtown Nashville.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is intended to provide work experience in situations where the work serves as an integral part of a student's academic program, prior to completion of that program and is a type of off-campus work permission for F-1 international students who want to gain experience in their fields of study. An F–1 student may be authorized to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.

To obtain CPT, a student must:

  • Be in a valid immigration status for at least two semesters (except students who must work as a requirement for their degree).
  • Secure a job offer related to the student's field of study.
  • Obtain CPT authorization BEFORE beginning employment; authorization cannot be postdated. 

The Office of International Education will grant permission for CPT after establishing the student's eligibility and reviewing the application materials. The authorization is granted by issuing a new I-20 for the student with the employer's information notated on page three of the document. After the request for CPT is submitted to the Office of International Education, the student will be contacted to schedule an appointment to submit the required documents for the new I-20 to be issued. The I-20 is shown to the employer as evidence of work authorization.

There is no limit to the amount of CPT a student is eligible for; however, if 12 months or more of full-time CPT are used, a student forfeits OPT eligibility. Accrual of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program.

Types of CPT

Students are eligible for CPT under one of the following two categories and two time periods:

Categories: 

1) Degree Requirement
CPT may be authorized when an internship is a requirement of a degree program (i.e. all students in the program must complete an internship to obtain the degree). Authorization can be for full-time or part-time employment, depending on the academic department's requirement. 

2) Course Credit
CPT may be authorized for students who enroll in a course that requires employment to earn a grade, or a course where students design their own research project based on the employment. Enrollment in the course must be concurrent with the employment. Authorization will be granted on a semester-only basis. However, if a student wishes to work for a period longer than the last day of the semester, he or she must enroll in the next available semester before authorization can be extended beyond the current term.

Time Periods:

A) Fall and Spring CPT
Employment is limited to part time (20 hrs/week or less) during the fall and spring semesters. However, graduate students who have advanced to candidacy are eligible for full-time employment during the semester as long as the employment is integral to their degree programs and is stated as such in the letters of support from the academic departments. 

B) Summer CPT
Full-time (20 hours or more per week) employment is allowed for all continuing students in the summer.  If summer is the first or final semester of a student’s degree program, CPT is limited to 20 hours per week Summer CPT can start no earlier than the day after spring semester finals and end no later than the day before classes begin for the fall semester. 

Students in English language programs are not eligible for CPT. If the student had a gap in study or a status violation, the one academic year waiting period may need to be recalculated once the student has again obtained valid F-1 status.

CPT Extensions

To extend CPT beyond the current semester, complete below steps one through four again. An extension of CPT authorization cannot be granted until proof of enrollment is available. Students who are working in the fall term and wish to extend through winter break into the spring term should consult with the Office of International Education.

Taxes

In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for no more than five different calendar years are exempt from Social Security taxes. You should be sure to bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. Students in F-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply, including federal, state and local. For more information, please consult with a tax professional and/or Publication 519 of the Internal Revenue Service.

Comply with F-1 Status Regulations while on CPT

F-1 students are responsible for complying with all immigration regulations, including employment regulations. Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of nonimmigrant status in the U.S. If a student fails to comply, he or she may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and may jeopardize his or her stay in the U.S. Prior to accepting any employment in the US, students should consult with the Office of International Education.

  • Always Enroll Full Time. F-1 students must maintain full-time student status every semester; this is defined as 12 credit-hours for undergraduate students and 9 credit-hours for graduate students. F-1 students may only count three credit-hours of online courses toward full-time enrollment requirements.
  • Update Local Address. An F-1 student authorized by USCIS to engage in Curricular Practical Training is required to report within 10 days of any change in the following: legal name, residence (including changes from one residence hall to another) or mailing address, employer name, employer address and/or periods of employment/unemployment.
  • Maintain the validity of your immigration documents. F-1 students should keep his or her passport valid for at least six months in to the future. F-1 students should keep his or her visa valid if traveling outside the U.S.
  • Change of Program Dates. An F-1 student will not be eligible for an extension of his or her I-20 due to a delay caused by CPT employment. Program date changes should occur at least two weeks prior to the change.
  • Change of Degree Program or Level. All program changes such as major, secondary major, minor or degree level must be updated in the SEVIS system.
  • Discuss Transfer Plans with a designated school official (DSO). F-1 students who wish to transfer to another school or to go on to attend graduate school after graduating from Austin Peay State University must notify a DSO.
  • Copies of Immigration Documents. F-1 students should keep copies of all immigration documents including the following: passport photo page, visa in passport, I-94 Form, current I-20, and all copies of any I-20 issued.
  • Making Plans for International Travel. An F-1 student must have the third page of the I-20 form signed by a university DSO before traveling. The signature date on the I-20 is valid for only one year of travel; check to make sure the signature is and will be valid upon return. Before leaving the F-1 student must check to make sure that the student visa will still be valid upon re-entry into the U.S. If not, the student will need to apply for a new visa prior to return to the U.S.

CPT Application Process

  1. Read the information about CPT.
  2. Request CPT by completing the APSU CPT request form (page 3)Submit to Office of International Education two weeks prior to appointment date (step 4).
  3. Enroll in the appropriate course for CPT.
  4. Schedule an appointment with the Office of International Education to obtain new CPT 1-20. All required documents should be brought to the appointment. 
  5. Apply for Social Security Number (cannot apply more than 30 days before start date listed on page 3 of I-20).
  6. Begin CPT once start date has arrived.

Required Documents

  • Letter from the faculty member who will supervise your internship stating the following: the specific internship opportunity, the specific degree requirement or elective course (course title, course number and number of credit hours), the minimum requirements to complete the internship, a reasonable period of time needed to complete the internship (e.g., satisfying the requirements of a one-semester, 3-credit course would normally be done in one semester or less).  If CPT is for dissertation research, the student's adviser should provide a detailed letter stating the dissertation topic, what research will be carried out, and why it is necessary for the dissertation.
  • Letter offering internship employment from your employer on company letterhead that is signed by the prospective employer. The letter should include your name, employer’s name, address and beginning/ending dates of employment (keep in mind that CPT can only be authorized one semester at a time), how many hours you will work weekly, a description of duties in sufficient detail to clearly show them as appropriate to meeting the requirements for your degree, location where employment will take place.
  • Proof of registration for CPT course if you are earning academic credit for the training. Note: you must be registered for CPT course in the same semester during which the work will be done (i.e., You must be registered for the CPT course in the summer if you will be working in the summer).