Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Application Guidelines

Federal visa regulations stipulate that international students are not allowed to work off-campus without prior authorization. Students on an F-1 student visa can request authorization to engage in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) while completing their degree.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations state that Curricular Practical Training (CPT) must be directly related to the major and an integral part of an established curriculum.

CPT is defined as "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."  Thus, CPT for F-1 students is intended to provide work experience in the U.S. in situations where the work serves as an integral part of a student's academic program and an established curriculum, prior to completion of that program.

•   The student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year before being eligible for CPT.

•   An exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in an internship, a practicum, or other employment.

•   It is available only while the student is in valid F-1 status and before the completion of his/her program.

•   Students in English language programs are not eligible for CPT.

•   If the student had a gap in study or a status violation, the one academic year waiting period may need to be recalculated once the student has again obtained valid F-1 status. 

OIP can authorize CPT if it can be clearly documented that the proposed employment is directly related to the major and meets one of the two conditions below.

•   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. There are only a few academic programs at SOU that require a period of off-campus employment for all degree candidates. This requirement must be formally documented in school publications.

•   The training employment is required for the student's degree and the credits awarded will go towards completion of the degree requirements. This means that a student who has already met the degree requirements of their program cannot apply for CPT.

In both of these cases, you must register and complete the CPT-related course during the semester that you are working under CPT authorization. For example, if you will be working in the summer, you must register and complete the CPT-related course in the same summer semester.

If CPT is for your last quarter, you must have at least one other remaining degree-required course for which to register, in addition to the CPT course unless the CPT course is the degree-required course.

CPT can be approved for part-time employment (20 hours or less per week) during the academic term or full-time employment during official school breaks.

The student must be enrolled in at least one practicum credit at SOU for each term of practical training unless otherwise approved. The student must maintain a full course of study during the period of employment unless otherwise approved.

CPT authorization only applies to the specific employer, location and period approved and recorded on the I-20 document.

Students who engage in one year or more of full-time CPT become ineligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). There is no limit on part-time CPT.

Application Procedure

•   Obtain a job offer letter (printed on company letterhead) from your prospective employer that describes the nature and location of the employment, the start and end dates of the employment, the number of hours per week and the rate of pay (if applicable). It must also include the employer's physical address and the name of your supervisor.

•   Meet with your academic advisor to complete the CPT Recommendation Form .

•   Submit your job offer letter and your recommendation form to the International Student Advisor for reviewIf approved, the Advisor will create a new I-20 for you that includes a CPT endorsement. The Advisor will keep the CPT Recommendation Form for his/her records. Please note that this process can take a few days.

•   Sign your new I-20.

•   Register for the practicum credits for the appropriate term(s).

•   Your employer will require you to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). For more information, see Obtaining A Social Security Number .