Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students where the practical training employment is considered to be an integral part of the curriculum or academic program. According to the immigration regulations, this employment may be an internship, cooperative education job, a practicum, or any other work experience that is either required for your degree (as defined in the course catalog) or for which academic credit is awarded.
To be eligible for curricular practical training, you must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year, your employment must be an integral part of your degree program or requirement for a course (as defined above), and your job offer related to your major or field of study. You must have an offer of employment offering work that qualifies as curricular practical training.
OISS can authorize curricular practical training for you if it can be clearly documented that the proposed employment meets one of the three following conditions:
1. The training employment is required of all degree candidates in the program and is necessary for the awarding of the degree. Included in this category is employment in a required internship or practicum. Graduate students in their first year of study may be eligible for curricular practical training in this category. Undergraduates are not eligible in their first year of study.
2. The training employment will result in the awarding of academic credit, at least preponderantly, if not solely, on the basis of the training experience. Included in this category is employment for a course specifically designed to award academic credit for an employment experience. Also included in this category is employment that will result in the award of at least one course credit for an independent study. In both of these cases you must be registered for the course during the period that you are working under curricular practical training authorization.
3. PhD Students in dissertation status where the training opportunity is an absolutely necessary component of the student's research - without which the doctoral dissertation cannot be completed - may be authorized to undertake curricular practical training. A letter from the student's dissertation advisor explaining in detail the relationship between the proposed employment and the student's doctoral dissertation research must be provided. You will also need to meet with your Graduate School Associate or Assistant Dean to obtain their signature on the CPT request form attesting that your activity is sanctioned by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and that you will continue to be a registered student during the requested period.
Your first step is to contact the OISS advising staff or school office to evaluate your eligibility for curricular practical training and the proposed employment opportunity to determine whether or not both you and the job meet the eligibility requirements. If all eligibility requirements are met, you will need to present OISS with a completed CPT Request Form signed by your academic adviser or dean.
Curricular practical training is authorized by OISS; it does not require approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). A new SEVIS I-20 will be issued denoting employment authorization on page three. You must not continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your permission to work. Any work undertaken after the expiration date of your CPT will be considered unauthorized employment.
If I use Curricular Practical Training, will the time be deducted from the twelve months of optional practical training?
The time you spend on curricular practical training will not be deducted from the twelve months of allowable optional practical training UNLESS you use 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training.
What is considered part-time?
Employment for 20 hours or less per week while you are enrolled for classes is considered part-time curricular practical training. The employment authorization page of your CPT I-20 will specify permission to engage in part-time training and you must limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time curricular practical training cumulatively, but you must be simultaneously enrolled as a full-time student in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
What is considered full-time training?
Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time curricular practical training, regardless of whether you are enrolled full-time or part-time for classes. The employment authorization page on your I-20 will specify permission to participate in full-time training. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in full-time curricular practical training, however if you participate in twelve months or more of curricular practical training you will not be eligible for post-completion practical training.
Do I need to have a job offer prior to submitting my application?
Yes. Your CPT authorization will be employer and date specific.
Do I need a U.S. Social Security Number?
Yes, if you plan to work in the U.S. you will need a valid Social Security number. OISS can provide with instructions on applying for a social security number.
Do I have to pay U.S. taxes on my salary?
In general F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for fewer than six years are exempt from social security taxes (also known as F.I.C.A. tax). 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. If you need more information about the F-1 social security tax exemption, please contact OISS. Students in F-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply, including federal, state and local.
What proof of employment authorization can I give my employer?
Your I-20 form for curricular practical training authorized by your OISS advisor is all you will need to provide your employer. Within the first three days of beginning work you and your employer must complete a form entitled Employment Eligibility Verification (INS Form I-9). This form will be kept on file by your employer and must be updated each time you receive a renewal of your work permission. Your I-20 with curricular practical training employment page (Page 3) should meet the documentation requirement of the I-9.
Applying for CPT