Curricular Practical Training, or CPT, is an F1 employment opportunity for eligible F1 visa students to work in USA. F1 visa CPT employment must be an essential part of the F1 student's curriculum or academic program. Students participating in a curricular practical training program may accept employment in the form of internships, cooperative study, work/study programs, or practicums. F1 CPT visa work experience must be used for academic credit or be a major requirement for the completion of degree.

F1 students who are eligible for curricular practical training may participate in either part-time or full-time CPT. By engaging in either of the CPT programs, F1 CPT students gain the following benefits.

  • Gain practical experience in their major area of study.
  • Work during academic sessions.
  • Receive academic credit for the CPT program.
  • Be eligible for OPT as long as they work on full-time or part-time CPT for a period of less than 12 months.

Part-Time CPT vs. Full-Time CPT

There are two types of curricular practical training: part-time CPT and full-time CPT. Eligible F1 students may participate in either part-time or full-time curricular practical training.

Part-Time CPT

To engage in part-time curricular practical training, the F1 student must be enrolled as a full-time student in order to maintain lawful F1 visa status. Part-time CPT students may work up to 20 hours per week as long as they maintain full-time student status simultaneously. There is no limit on how long students may work on part-time CPT.

Full-Time CPT

Full-time CPT students may work more than 20 hours per week. However, working under full-time CPT for 12 months may annul students' eligibility for OPT (Optional Practical Training).

F1 CPT Requirements & Eligibility

CPT eligibility requirements include the following.

  • CPT participant must be a valid F1 visa status holder.
  • CPT participant must be enrolled as a full-time student for one year in an academic or degree program on valid F1 visa status. However, if your program requires immediate participation, this criterion may be waived.
  • CPT participant must be a recipient of a qualifying employment offer before submitting CPT authorization request to school.
  • CPT participant must be offered employment related to major area of study.
  • CPT participant may not be enrolled in a language training program.

Applying for CPT

The following steps outline the process of applying for CPT:

  • Obtain Job Offer Letter. A copy of the job offer letter printed in correct format is required for CPT work authorization. The CPT work offer letter must include your name, job title, job description, employment address, correct dates of CPT employment, and status of CPT employment (full-time or part-time CPT).
  • Initiate Request. Initiate request for recommendation of CPT authorization from your Designated School Official (DSO). DSO endorses a new Form I-20 where CPT work authorization will be printed on page 3. Employment can start only after the new Form I-20 is endorsed by the DSO and the person is authorized to work on F1 visa CPT.

F1 CPT Duration

The duration of a given F1 CPT visa program is not limited to a certain period of time. The CPT program participant may continue their CPT employment as long as he or she:

  • Maintains lawful F1 student visa status.
  • Maintains good academic standing.
  • Is free from health issues that may hinder school or CPT work performance.
  • Engages in curricular practical training related to major area of study.
  • Engages in curricular practical training that is either required by degree program or used for academic credit towards the completion of major or degree.