Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may be authorized under certain circumstances to allow F-1 students temporary off-campus employment. Such employment must be directly related to a student's major field of study and an integral or important part of the program of study. CPT may also be required for any practical experience (not just paid employment) that is necessary for academic credit. This is explained in further detail below.
A course offered for the primary purpose of facilitating employment authorization does not qualify for CPT.
If you are a graduate student engaged in research that is integral to a thesis or dissertation, the research should involve innovative technology available only at a particular corporation’s research facilities or the collection of data or experience essential for your thesis or dissertation. All required coursework for the degree must be completed to use this form of CPT.
Who is eligible for CPT?
To be eligible for CPT, F-1 students must meet all criteria below:
- Active F-1 status
- Students who have completed one full academic year (30 weeks of full-time study) immediately prior to the start of their requested CPT work authorization. Students who have studied under a different status during this period may also meet this requirement. This requirement is waived for students in a program that requires immediate CPT participation.
Studying in an online program outside of the United States does not count towards the full academic year requirement.
Full-time vs. Part-time
- Full-time CPT is more than 20 hours per week
- Part-time CPT is 20 hours a week or less
- For part-time CPT to be issued, you must be simultaneously enrolled in full-time in-person classes to maintain lawful F-1 status.
If a student participates in 365 days or more of full-time CPT, they will lose eligibility to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Participation in part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.
Apply for CPT
- Receive an offer letter from your employer. The offer letter should be on company letterhead and should include the following information:
- Your job title,
- Job duties,
- Dates of employment,
- Name and address of employer,
- Submit a Curricular Practical Training e-form in iBearcatsGlobal.
- The e-form will be routed to your academic/co-op advisor. They'll explain how the work is necessary to complete your degree. After your advisor completes the certification, the e-form is routed back to our office, where it will take up to 5 business days to process. So, plan ahead.
- Receive authorization from UC International. With this authorization, you can begin your employment.
You are not eligible to work until you receive your CPT I-20 from UC International Services and the start date of your work authorization has arrived. No other authorization is required for CPT.
CPT is required for each training / employment experience used to fulfill a co-op requirement. These include paid or unpaid experiences as well as co-op alternatives like Experiential Exploration Programs (EEPs), service learning, international experiences, study abroad, etc. This also includes all work/training taking place on campus.
In all cases, submit the CPT e-form to UC International using iBearcatsGlobal.
If your employment/training is taking place outside the U.S., CPT will not to be issued on your SEVIS record. However, you still need to submit the CPT e-form in iBearcatsGlobal, so UC International can record your co-op participation and keep your SEVIS record active.
If the training/employment is taking place to fulfill an Internship/capstone or other curricular option, CPT is required for each experience, paid or unpaid.
You will need to enroll in the appropriate internship/capstone or other course for each term the employment/training is taking place.
If the training/employment is necessary for completion of a thesis or dissertation, CPT is required for each semester the employment/training will take place.
You are required to enroll in 1 credit hour of thesis/dissertation research for each semester the employment/training will take place except for the summer. If the employment/training will take place during summer term only, then enrollment in the relevant research credit is necessary in the Summer Term.
The employment/training must be an integral part of the program of study. CPT is required for all paid employment/training opportunities.
CPT may be required for non-paid training opportunities. Students and academic units must consult with UC International for the appropriate procedures regarding all non-paid opportunities to determine if CPT is required. If CPT is required, enrollment in the appropriate course is needed for each term the training will take place.
Find a Job in the U.S.
Part of the CPT process will involve finding a job in the United States. While you may use other connections and websites to find positions, UC has a resource for its students called Handshake. Using this portal, you can find co-ops, internships and post-graduation jobs that best match your career path.
In this video from Experience-Based Learning and Career Education, learn how to use Handshake to find employers who will sponsor international students, don't require a U.S. work visa and accept students on CPT.
You are not limited in the amount of Curricular Practical Training you may utilize. However, students who have engaged in a year (365 days) or more of full-time CPT are ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Those who utilize 364 days or less of full-time CPT are still eligible for OPT.
On your first day of work, you will complete an I-9 form with your employer. It certifies how you are authorized to work in the US. The two most common questions about this form are answered below:
- In Section 1, "An alien authorized to work", your Admission # is your I-94 number.
- You are “authorized to work until” the end date of the CPT listed on your I-20.
- In Section 2, CPT falls under the category of "List A", document #4: Unexpired foreign passport, with Form I-94 indicating unexpired employment authorization. This section is to be completed by the employer, not the student.
You are authorized to work with the company, at the location, during the dates stated clearly on page 2 of your I-20. If anything should change in any of the details, UC International will need to authorize such changes.
For example, if you wish to work beyond the authorized period of employment, the employer is going to transfer you to another location, or you are going to work full-time instead of part-time, UC International will need to make these alterations to your authorization.
Your academic / co-op advisor will need to put any changes into writing and send them to UC International.
If you wish to take part in a new period of CPT, submit the CPT Request eForm again or get a letter from your advisor explaining the changes. The advisor's letter must be received by UC International Services prior to you starting work under the changed conditions.
Remember, it will take several business days to process your request. Plan ahead!
While on CPT you are still in F-1 status. Please make sure that you are following all of the rules to maintain your status. This includes any changes of address (within 10 days). To update your local address, please submit the new address in Catalyst. You can find instructions for this process on the Enrollment Services website.
You can travel in and out of the United States while on CPT provided your I-20 has been signed by UC International Services within the past 12 months. You can obtain a new travel signature by completing the "Travel Signature Request" in iBearcatsGlobal.
You are still covered under University Student Health Insurance during your period of CPT. Your employer may need to know this if you wish to waive their health benefits.
Alternatively, if you wish to use your employer’s health benefits and wish to waive the University Student Health Insurance for the period you are on CPT, you will need to apply for a waiver prior to the deadline.
Training must be a requirement or an integral part of your degree, as determined by your academic advisor or department. A qualifying CPT experience is one that carries academic credit, is listed in UC's course offerings, and has a faculty member assigned to it. This could include:
- alternate work/study
- cooperative education (including unpaid EEPs)
- any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school
- A required project or Capstone
- graduate student research for a thesis or dissertation