Skip to Main Content

International Student Resources: Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

This is a libguide with resources for international students at Eastern Nazarene College

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment authorization for F-1 students. Eligible students may seek authorization to work in an internship, co-op, or practicum that is directly related to your major field of study. The purpose of CPT is to apply the knowledge and skills you are gaining in the classroom to practical work experience in the U.S.

CPT is a benefit of maintaining your F-1 student visa status. CPT is not a separate visa category and does not require “sponsorship” from an employer. You must have an offer of employment to apply for CPT. CPT is only available before you complete your degree program and should not be used as a means to extend your SEVIS program end date/degree completion.  

CPT is authorized by a Designated School Official (DSO) at ISS. If your request is approved, ISS will issue you a new I-20 with CPT authorization on page 2. You must have CPT authorization before you can start your practical training experience. CPT authorization is typically granted for one semester at a time. You must be enrolled for the semester that you plan to do your CPT experience before you submit your completed CPT application to ISS, unless your practical training is required by your degree program with no course enrollment.

It may take up to 15 business days for ISS to evaluate your CPT request. Please submit your request as early as possible and ensure that your materials are complete and accurately filled out. Please be advised that if the the Designated School Official needs to reach out to you for additional information, the request may take additional time. We advise you to plan ahead and pick a start date that allows for this processing time. 

Please click here for Study in the States information on CPT.

Working without Authorization

Potential consequences of accepting a paid or unpaid practical training opportunity without proper authorization may include:

  • termination of your I-20/SEVIS record and loss of your F-1 benefits, including on-campus employment and OPT
  • potential accrual of unlawful presence
  • ineligibility for future visas that allow for work authorization, such as H-1B, O-1, TN, or permanent residency
  • denial of your USCIS application for OPT

You should meet with an ENC DSO as soon as you become aware that you have violated your F-1 status. The ENC DSO will review your options to correct your F-1 status.

CPT Eligibility

Who Can Apply

A degree-seeking F-1 student who:

  • Has been enrolled full-time for one full academic year:
    • Academic year = Consecutive Fall and Spring semester enrollment;
    • A transfer student who transferred their I-20/SEVIS record to ENC may qualify if they were previously enrolled full-time enrollment for one academic year;
    • A ENC student who changed education levels and was issued a “change of level” I-20 (not “Initial attendance”) may qualify;
    • A student who has an approved change of status to F1 may qualify depending on their previous visa status and full-time enrollment for one academic year. Please see the DSO for clarification. 
  • Is maintaining valid F-1 status.
  • Has an offer for a practical training opportunity directly related to their major and degree level as listed on the I-20.
  • Is enrolled in an appropriate course for CPT (as determined by the program), or a practical training opportunity/internship/practicum is required to earn the degree.

Types of CPT

There are two types of CPT:

Required by your Major

  • The DSO requires documentation from your advisor and the registrar as part of your CPT application. You must include, at minimum:
    • Course number or non-credit requirement
    • Name of faculty teaching the course
    • Course description and objectives

Optional or Elective of your Major

  • Course enrollment in a CPT course is required (generally 1-3 credits). Talk to your academic/faculty advisor and career services for possible CPT course enrollment options and permission to enroll.

CPT Application Process

How to Apply for CPT:

To apply for CPT authorization, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Inform the ENC DSO of your intent to apply for CPT
    • It can take time to complete the steps necessary to register for the internship course and receive CPT authorization. It is important to start this process early. 
  2. Contact your Faculty Advisor & Career Services
    • In order to be granted work authorization, your advisor and Career Services must certify that you will register in an appropriate course or internship credit(s). Speak with your advisor to determine your options for a CPT-appropriate course. If your advisor has questions, please have him or her contact the DSO for assistance.
    • Work with your advisor and Career Services to complete any necessary internship application paperwork to register for the internship course in the appropriate semester and to ensure it meets ENC requirements.
  3. Get an Offer Letter
    • You must provide the DSO with an offer letter from your prospective employer. This letter should be on company letterhead. Please share a copy of the offer letter with your academic advisor and Career Services. Please circle the following before submitting:

      • Specific start date with the phrase "or date of authorization"
        • For example: "The candidate will begin the training opportunity on October 1, 2016, or date of authorization, whichever is later."
      • Specific end date
      • The number of hours you will train per week. It will not be sufficient for the letter to state "part time" or "full time." The number of hours per week must be provided.
      • The physical location (street address, city, state, and ZIP code) where the training will be conducted. P.O. boxes are not accepted for this requirement.
      • A description, as detailed as possible, of the duties entailed in your training
    • We have created a template for the information on our website to help them create this process.
  4. Register for the Appropriate Course
    • Students must register for a CPT-appropriate course for each semester or summer session for which they seek authorization. CPT authorization cannot be based upon "incompletes" or other registrations from previous semesters.

      If you seek work authorization for the summer, you must be enrolled in a CPT-appropriate course.

  5. Submit Application to the DSO:

    • ​​Your completed application for CPT must be submitted to the DSO at least two weeks before the employment is expected to begin. Please apply early. Failure to do so can result in delays in processing, during which time you are not eligible to begin work.

    • The completed CPT application must include the following:
      • Completed CPT Application Form with signature by Academic Advisor and Career Services

      • Offer Letter from the Employer

      • Copy of your course schedule showing registration for the internship course listed on your CPT Application

CPT Time Limits & Dates

CPT Time Limits

You may be approved for CPT multiple times during your degree program. At all times, you must continue to make satisfactory progress toward completing your degree program. Satisfactory progress is defined by each school/college or department. You must also meet the CPT eligibility requirements each time you request authorization.

If you are authorized for 365+ days of full-time CPT, you are not eligible for post-completion OPT at the same degree level. Please click here for the regulations

Accumulating part-time CPT generally does not affect your eligibility for post-completion OPT. However, please know that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will review an OPT applicant’s entire CPT history when determining OPT eligibility.


Part-Time versus Full-Time CPT

Part-time and full-time practical training is defined by immigration as:

  • Part-time CPT- 20 hours or less per week
  • Full-time CPT- more than 20 hours per week

Your CPT must be authorized for either part-time or full-time. If there is a change in the number of hours per week you work that will change your part-time or full-time authorization, you must have new CPT authorization before you change your work schedule. A change in part-time/full-time CPT authorization requires a new CPT application.

You must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time and be physically present on campus in order to maintain lawful F-1 status during fall and spring semesters.

CPT Dates

CPT is typically authorized one semester at a time and is based on your CPT course enrollment confirmation, or your department’s required practical training experience.

You must have an I-20 with valid CPT authorization dates to engage in your practical training experience.

General CPT Date Requirements:

  • Earliest start date: must be after one year of full-time enrollment during consecutive fall/spring semesters
  • End date: must end on or before your I-20 end date

Summer CPT Dates

Earliest start date: day after Spring semester ends

Latest end date: day before Fall semester begins

Fall CPT Dates

Earliest start date: first day of Fall semester

Latest end date: day before Spring semester begins

Spring CPT Dates

Earliest start date: first day of Spring semester

Latest end date: day before may-term session begins

Shorten Your Authorized CPT Dates

If you need to shorten the dates of your CPT authorization, you must email the DSO with your request and confirmation of the new dates from your employer and academic/faculty/career advisor. It is not possible to change your CPT dates after your CPT authorization has ended. 

 

 

CPT & On-Campus Employment

CPT and on-campus employment are separate authorizations. You may have an on-campus job and CPT authorization at the same time. You are eligible for employment authorization as long as you are maintaining your F-1 status.

  • On-campus employment does not require additional authorization by the DSO.
  • CPT always requires authorization by the DSO before you can begin your employment.

Remember, you are required to maintain valid F-1 status, including full-time enrollment during the fall and spring semesters. As an F-1 student, your primary purpose in the U.S. is to earn a degree. On-campus employment and CPT are benefits of maintaining your F-1 status, so it is important to prioritize your studies. If you are considering a combination of CPT and on-campus employment that totals more than 20 hours per week, please understand it is likely impact on your academic progress and proceed cautiously. We encourage you to consider your wellness and work-life balance as you determine which employment opportunities you wish to pursue. 

CPT can be authorized part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full-time (over 20 hours per week). CPT authorization is for off-campus practical training experiences. 

On-campus employment is allowed for up to 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. There is no exception to this rule.

There is no immigration limit on the hours per week you can work during authorized breaks (winter break, spring break, and summer break). However, the limit is 29 hours per week for most positions at ENC.

We recommend that you consult with your employing department(s) and other funding sources for additional rules that may limit your work hours.

Your CPT Reporting Requirements

During your CPT authorization, you must:

  • Report change in U.S. residential address to the DSO within 10 days.
  • Report change in permanent foreign address to the DSO within 10 days.
  • Complete your CPT course.
    • If you are unable to complete your CPT course, or you are unable to complete your CPT experience, contact the DSO and your academic/career advisor immediately.
  • Keep proof of your CPT experience for your permanent records.

When Your CPT Ends

Stop working on the end date of your CPT authorization on page 2 of your CPT I-20.

CPT End Date Example

You do not need a new I-20 at the end of CPT. The I-20 is still valid until the program end date on page 1, as long as you continue to maintain your full-time enrollment. 

After your CPT authorization, you must:

  • Complete your CPT course.
    • If you are unable to complete your CPT course, or you are unable to complete your CPT experience, contact the DSO and your academic/career advisor immediately.
  • Keep proof of your CPT experience for your permanent records.

You are required to file taxes on any taxable income earned.