Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of educational training for F-1 international students. Practical training can provide valuable work experience by sharpening and adding to the skills you are learning in school. CPT allows you to accept an internship, practicum, field placement, or other work experiences that is a requirement due to enrollment in a course or for a degree.
Curricular Practical Training is defined to be “either paid or unpaid 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."
How do I know if I will have the opportunity for CPT?
You've been offered an internship, work opportunity, field placement, or practicum. You're eligible for CPT if this opportunity...
- is required for your degree completion.
- will be taken during a semester, with a matching course.
- yields an academic credit.
- will have an instructor as a supervisor who evaluates your progress and assigns a grade that will appear on your academic transcript.
- you have been enrolled in classes for at least one academic year. (fall and spring semesters)
If you think you might be eligible, contact your academic department to find out if they have a CPT-related course(s) for you to take!
You've been offered an internship, work opportunity, field placement, or practicum. But, you haven't been enrolled and in-status for at least one academic year.
- You aren't eligible for CPT yet - APSU only authorizes CPT after one academic year has been completed.
You're offered an internship, practicum, work opportunity, or field experience, but your major does not require students in your program to complete one.
- You will not be eligible for CPT.
Note: Not every department at APSU will have CPT as an opportunity. In cases where you will not get credit or where you will just get experience in the field - e.g. nursing, music, or another field, then you should apply for pre-completion OPT instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! There are few more requirements beyond determining your eligibility based on your class. You must also:
- Enroll in the appropriate course during CPT term. There are no exceptions. You must be enrolled in a course to take CPT.
- Be in a valid immigration status with full-time enrollment for at least one academic
year (That means Fall and Spring Semesters)
- Students in English language programs are not eligible for CPT.
- If you have had a gap in study or a status violation, the one academic year waiting period is recalculated from the time you return to valid status.
You can count the time spent studying in F-1 status at a transfer-out school toward any requirement that is necessary for you to be in F-1 status for a full academic year.
Note: if you leave the United States and return on a new Initial Form I-20 instead of transferring, you cannot count the time spent studying at a previous school.
- Secure a job offer related to your field of study and the class you're taking.
- Obtain CPT authorization listed on I-20 BEFORE beginning employment; authorization cannot be backdated.
- Authorization is granted by the ISS DSO, who will issue a new I-20 for you with the employer's information added.
- You can only work for the employer during the dates listed on the CPT section of your I-20 form.
- You can show the CPT-noted I-20 form to your employer as evidence of work authorization.
There is no limit to the amount of CPT you're eligible for; however, if 12 months or more of full-time CPT is used, you will forfeit OPT eligibility. Part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT. CPT is not available after you complete your degree program.
You are eligible for CPT under one of the following two categories:
Course Credit (preferred)
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.
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). The internship must be part of the academic credits posted on your transcript, and dates must fall within the semester dates. Authorization can be for full-time or part-time employment, depending on the academic department's requirement.
The good news is, once you get all the paperwork in, your CPT I-20 can usually be made the same day. That makes it easier to start. However, when accepting job roles, keep the semester dates in mind:
- You can only work during the academic semester. Check the Academic Calendar to find semester dates.
- Continuing students can only work part-time during the Fall and Spring semester in
most cases. Typically, you're limited to part-time CPT for these semesters.
- International students must have face-to-face classes, so full time CPT may not be authorized in Fall or Spring.
- During the summer, regardless of full-time or part-time course enrollment, you can work full time.
- If your degree program requires full-time internships during fall or spring, you will need this noted by your advisor. Remember that you must have completed one academic year before accepting an internship.
- If you're in your final term, you can use CPT, but it is only approved on a case-by-case
basis. Student must sign an agreement to meet the following requirements:
- Part time CPT if you have a full course load, including at least one in-person class.
- Part time if you are a Graduate Assistant in any capacity, and the internship is in the Fall or Spring. No exceptions.
- Full time CPT if you have reduced course load/less than full-time, but:
- the class must be in person or require regular check ins (virtual check ins are allowed) and;
- you must check in with the ISS coordinator, advisor or graduate coordinator, and department chair as deemed necessary by your advisor or ISS
- Exception: Summer CPT may be full time even if the class is online.
- If you are a Graduate Assistant of any type, you may not accept a full-time CPT role in the Fall or Spring semesters unless you resign from your graduate assistantship role.
Notice: Failure to meet the above requirements will result in immediate cancelation of CPT authorization and potential failure of the class which the student is enrolled in.
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.
You can file taxes in person, but if you want to file online, Sprintax is the only service available.
Yes, but there's nothing new here. F-1 students are responsible for complying with all immigration regulations, including employment regulations. The rules you normally abide by when not working are the same ones you'll abide by when working.
Note that working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of nonimmigrant status in the U.S. If you fail to comply with these regulations, you may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and may jeopardize your stay in the U.S.
Prior to accepting any employment in the US, students should consult with the Office of International Student Services. Some important points to remember are:
- Always Enroll Full Time. You must maintain full-time student status every semester; this is defined as 12 credit-hours for undergraduate students and 6 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. If you're authorized to engage in Curricular Practical Training, you must report the following changes within 10 days: 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. You should keep your passport valid for at least six months into the future. Always kep your visa valid if traveling outside the U.S.
- Change of Program Dates. You will not be eligible for an extension of your I-20 due to a delay caused by CPT employment. Changes to a program date should occur at least two weeks prior to the new program date or expiration of the current date, whichever is earlier.
- 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.
- Copies of Immigration Documents. You should keep copies of all immigration documents including the following: passport photo page, visa in passport, I-94, current I-20, and copies of any I-20 issued.
It's not too hard! There are a few steps here.
- Fill out the APSU CPT request form.
- Request required letter from faculty advisor, course instructor, or graduate coordinator.
- Graduate students must contact their graduate coordinator.
- For Faculty: PDF Sample Letter (email email@example.com for a word doc)
- Request hiring letter from the employer.
- Register for the appropriate course for CPT. There are no exceptions.
- 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).
- Schedule an appointment with Office of International Student Services. The ISS DSO
will issue your I-20.
- Bring all docs from 1-4 above to ensure you can be approved at your appointment.
- Deadline: one week before earliest CPT start date
- You must schedule an appointment - drop-ins will not be accepted. This could delay your start date!
Once approved, remember to...
- Apply for Social Security Number
- Begin CPT only once start date listed on CPT I-20 has arrived.
- Comply with F-1 Status Regulations while on CPT.
Since CPT is directly approved by the school, it's imperative your documents have all the information below. Without it, you could jeopardize your future opportunities in the U.S. It seems strict, but we are here to protect you.
Letter from the faculty member (advisor, instructor, or graduate coordinator) who will supervise your internship stating the following:
- your name
- 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 can be sent by email from faculty member’s APSU email directly to Office of International Student Services DSO.
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 (company)
- employer’s (company) address
- 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
- location where employment will take place
- a description of duties in sufficient detail to clearly show them as appropriate to meeting the requirements for your degree