WHAT IS CPT?
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of Practical Training, which may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis for one full academic year. CPT is granted by an OIA Designated School Official (DSO), and we will issue you an updated I-20 with employer-specific CPT authorization on page 2.
CPT is defined as “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.” The CPT regulations also state that an F-1 student may participate in a “curricular practical training program” that is “an integral part of an established curriculum” and “directly related to the student’s major area of study.”
CPT is required for any paid or unpaid internship or off-campus employment experience. CPT work must be directly related to your field of study. If the opportunity is something you would put on your resume or CV, such as an unpaid internship, you need CPT.
One exception for volunteering without CPT is unpaid charitable work that is unrelated to your field of study. In cases of true charitable community service, you do not need CPT. Example: stocking food at a local food pantry for the needy in a volunteer position.
Taking a relevant internship course is required for each semester of CPT, as that academic work is what formalizes the internship as “an integral part of your established curriculum”
Only part-time CPT is permitted during the school year, while part-time or full-time CPT is permitted in the summer. CPT requires registration and attendance in an internship course.
ELIGIBILITY AND PARAMETERS
The student must be:
- currently in valid F-1 status at an SEVP-approved school
- in good academic standing and continuing to make regular academic progress
- full-time enrolled for at least one full academic year (two consecutive semesters)
- following a break in F-1 status or new SEVIS ID number the eligibility clock resets and you have to wait one academic year again
The training must be:
- “an integral part of an established curriculum”
- “directly related to the student’s major area of study”
CPT is granted semester-by-semester (not a full year) and approved by the academic department each time. CPT start and end dates must fall between the dates of the semester, per the Academic Calendar.
In the Summer, CPT can be full-time (more than 20hrs/week) or part-time (20hrs/week or less). The internship course is required to enroll in for summer.
During the academic year (fall or spring), CPT can only be part-time, 20 hours per week maximum. The internship course is required in that term and you also have to be full-time enrolled.
A new CPT authorization is required for each employer and for each semester. For example, if you will have an internship that is the entire academic year, you will need to apply first for CPT for the Fall semester and apply again for the Spring semester, even if your employer has not changed.
You can have multiple CPT authorizations at the same time, however the total hours of work, for all positions combined, cannot exceed 20 hours per week for the Fall and Spring semesters.
Use of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for 12 months or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Use of part-time CPT (20 hours or less) does not affect eligibility for OPT.
HOW TO APPLY FOR CPT
You have to get the internship offer first before you can apply for CPT, because the authorization is employer-specific.
You must receive CPT authorization from OIA before starting your internship (whether paid or unpaid). Please plan your CPT start date at least two weeks out, to allow you time to get registered for the internship course and the CPT paperwork approved.
Starting to work before or continuing to work beyond the CPT dates authorized on your I-20 is a violation of federal regulations, resulting in the loss of valid immigration status. CPT cannot be authorized retroactively.
2. Review the Academic Internship Guide and make sure you understand the process in your own department, including which course you will register for.
3. Search for an internship related to your field of study. When you are offered an internship, request a signed offer letter on company letterhead stating:
- Employer’s name and full address;
- Begin and end date of employment (start date more than two weeks into the future);
- Number of hours per week (no more than 20 hours/week during Fall/Spring)
- Description of your position (must be related to your major)
- Whether the position is paid or unpaid
4. Seek academic approval for the internship offer and get the Departmental CPT form signed
5. If you have not yet already, enroll in the appropriate internship class for the appropriate semester. Your schedule must display your internship course as “registered” (not “planned”) in order for OIA to approve the CPT request.
6. Combine all the below documents into one single PDF using Adobe. Send it to OIA@pratt.edu with CPT and your Pratt ID in the subject line.
- Job offer on company letterhead, which has all the information listed in #3 above
- CPT Department Form completed and signed by your internship advisor.
- Class registration/course schedule showing your registered internship class
- Most recent I-94 Record
The OIA only accepts complete applications by email and as a single submission. Please do not send us pieces of your application in separate files and emails.
AFTER YOU APPLY FOR CPT
An OIA Designated School Official (DSO) will review your application and, provided it is complete, process within ten business days. If approvable, we will authorize your CPT and email you your new I-20 which will show the CPT authorization on page 2. You should print your I-20 out, and then sign and date the paper copy.
You must have your signed CPT I-20 in hand before you are authorized to begin working. You will present your CPT I-20 to Human Resources at your internship location, along with your passport and I-94. You are also eligible to apply for a Social Security Number with your CPT I-20, if the position is paid and you do not have an SSN yet.
Keep records of your internship experiences, such as offer letters, agreements, and pay stubs in a paper or electronic folder. Keep copies of all your I-20s, including the CPT I-20.
Your employment is “at will,” meaning you can end your internship if it is not working out. We recommend being respectful to the employer in doing so and to consult with CCPD if you have any concerns. Make sure to notify email@example.com and your academic department of your last date of the internship. Remember that you would need to get a new CPT granted if you are offered a new internship, because the authorization is employer specific.