Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What is CPT?

“…Curricular practical training is defined to be 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.” [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]

Curricular Practical Training is not a means of simply gaining employment eligibility or a stepping stone to be able to work until Optional Practical Training begins.

Eligibility

Who is eligible for CPT?

Students who are in F-1 status and have been enrolled full-time at Coe College for at least one full academic year in the current degree program are eligible for Curricular Practical Training before completion of all semester hours required for the degree. CPT can be done during the regular academic year or during the summer or winter break.

Who is not eligible for CPT?

  1. Students who have received a program extension to extend the end date on the I-20; the DIA will need to discuss the nature of your program extension to determine whether CPT will further delay your completion of studies.
  2. After completion of all semester hours required for a degree.  There are only two exceptions:
    1. an unusual opportunity of short duration, such as a weekend performance in a symphony orchestra or one-day participation in a workshop or research study; OR
    2. the internship is required by the program of study as documented by information from the academic department
  3. For situations involving self-employment, contract work, or work for a startup run by other students.
  4. After graduation or completion of a course of study.
  5. While enrolled in a Professional Improvement or Non-Degree course of study.
  6. Based on a course of study for a Certificate or Minor degree.
  7. After applying for OPT.
  8. After resuming studies following a period of OPT, unless starting a new degree program and the established curriculum requires immediate participation in CPT; otherwise the student entering a new degree program after OPT will be eligible for CPT after one academic year in the new program of study.
  9. After returning to finish the current degree program following completion of OPT.
  10. While participating in Concurrent Enrollment.
  11. Anyone who has fallen out of status for any reason, including not maintaining full-time registration or working without proper authorization.

Note: The DIA reserves the right to review and deny CPT applications, particularly if the DIA feels the student is trying to delay graduation.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I apply and when can I begin CPT?
You are eligible to apply up to 90 days before the end of your first year of study.  The actual CPT employment cannot begin until the first academic year is complete. You CANNOT begin to work before you obtain your CPT authorization from the DIA or continue to work after your authorization expires or you graduate. If you do, you will be engaged in unlawful employment (i.e., you will be “working illegally”). Generally, it is best to apply for CPT authorization 1-4 weeks prior to the start of employment. When you apply, you must be able to demonstrate you will continue to work towards your degree. Therefore, you should be able to demonstrate you are registered and continuing to make academic progress for the academic term in which you will on CPT. For example, if you are applying during the fall semester for CPT with a spring semester start date, you should be registered in classes for the spring semester. The only exception to this policy is for CPT taking place in the summer, during which enrollment is generally not required for international students.

Do I need to apply to the USCIS for CPT authorization?
No. You do not need to apply to the USCIS. In fact, only the DIA can authorize CPT for eligible Coe students.

When can I begin my CPT employment?
You may begin working immediately after you receive your I-20 authorizing you for CPT from the DIA, and as soon as the start date requested on the I-20 arrives. DO NOT begin your employment before you receive the CPT authorization from the DIA, or you will be working illegally!

What if I want to do CPT for more than one semester?
The DIA will require you to renew your CPT application each semester. This means you must plan in advance to renew your authorization before your current semester’s authorization expires if you wish to continue working. Remember, you must also be able to demonstrate you are registered and continuing to make academic progress for the future semester at the time of application, unless you will be applying to extend your CPT into the summer.

Can I use CPT to engage in self-employment or open a business?
No, it is not possible to use CPT for these purposes.

Will I be eligible to extend my I-20 if I do full-time CPT?
In most cases, no. While you may be eligible to be approved for full-time CPT, you are still expected to be making normal progress on your degree. Unless your CPT is required by your program, the DIA will not be willing to extend an I-20 if a student did one semester or more of full-time CPT and then cannot graduate on time. If you believe you may find yourself in this situation, please talk to the ISA before applying for full-time CPT.

Do I have to be registered when I am participating in CPT in the fall/spring?
Yes, you must always be registered as a student at Coe College during the fall/spring semester for tuition-bearing credit - an internship registration that carries no tuition is not sufficient by itself. 

  • If you are participating in part-time CPT, you must maintain full-time enrollment (3 Coe credits). 
  • If you are participating in full-time CPT (more than 20 hours/week), you must still be registered for 3 Coe credits while doing full-time CPT.  

It is your responsibility to determine with your academic advisor what it is appropriate for you to register for.

What is the difference between Optional Practical Training (OPT) and CPT?
OPT permits employment after completion of a course of study. You don’t need a job offer to apply for OPT. There is no time limit to CPT, while full-time OPT is limited to one year. It is possible to do part-time OPT while still in the middle of a program of study, but most students are also eligible for CPT so it is very rare for students to apply for OPT before they complete their required semester hours.

If I do CPT, can I still do OPT later?
Yes, as long as you do not engage in full-time CPT (that is, more than 20 hours/week) for a cumulative total of 12 months. Part-time CPT (20 hours or less per week) has no impact on subsequent eligibility for OPT, even if you work for more than a year.

Can I change employers if I have CPT authorization? Can I work full-time instead of part-time, or vice-versa?
Yes, but only with prior authorization from the DIA. If you change employers, or if you change from part-time to full-time employment, you MUST re-apply for a new CPT authorization. You cannot make the change until you have obtained a new CPT authorization I-20, or you will be working without authorization (i.e., “working illegally”). If you change from full-time to part-time employment, you should let the DIA know so that your employment will not affect your eligibility for OPT.

Am I eligible for CPT if I am or ever have been a part-time student?
If you have ever been enrolled as a part-time student, you must have a “Reduced Course Load Request” on file for the semester(s) you were under-enrolled. Otherwise, CPT cannot be authorized.

If I have an internship or other work opportunity which is unpaid, do I still need CPT authorization?
Yes, if the internship, work, or volunteer opportunity is related to your major field of study, you should still apply for CPT authorization even if you will not receive payment. The definition of “employment” in immigration terms does not necessarily equate with being paid, and Homeland Security expects international students engaged in even unpaid internships to be authorized for CPT. This includes students who may be registering for internship credit through their academic department.

Can I travel outside the US if I have been authorized for CPT?
Yes. For further information on traveling outside the US and carrying proper documentation, please review the travel information section of the website.

If I am authorized for CPT employment and I decide not to use it, can I file another CPT application later?
Yes, unless you are ineligible due to one of the factors listed previously. However, please ask the DIA to notify the USCIS of the cancellation of your CPT as soon as you know you will not use the entire period authorized.


CPT Application Guidelines 

General Information:

  • Curricular Practical Training or CPT gives F1 students who have already studied for more than one year in the United States, the opportunity to work off-campus. 
  • The work must be required to graduate or must be work experience for credit which is directly related to your field of study.
  • Generally, CPT employment must be less than 20 hours a week, and you must maintain full-time classes.
  • If you work more than 12 months on full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for OPT after you graduate.
  • CPT is generally authorized for one semester at a time.
  • In general, F1 students who have been in the US less than 5 years have different taxation. Their employers do not need to pay the FICA tax/social security tax.  However, all other taxes must be paid.  Please inform your adviser of this. 

Requirements:

  • CPT Application Form
  • A copy of the job offer on letterhead with all of the relevant employment information
  • Copy of I-94
  • Copy of new I-20*
  • Verification from Coe’s Registrar’s Office that student is registered full-time
  • If over summer, student will need to register for non-credit practicum

*Coe will generate a new I-20 with your CPT work authorization.

After you have received your new I-20, you must provide employment eligibility information to your employer. Employment authorization for your employer will include your new I-20, passport, I-94, and Social Security card. Your employer should fill out the Employment Eligibility Form I-9.

CPT Application:

Please download the application and, when fully complete, with the additional documents noted above, submit directly to Peter Gerlach, Director of International Affairs.