- CPT is a type of off-campus work permission for F1 international students who want to gain work experience in their fields of study.
- CPT is only available while a student is still enrolled in a degree program.
- Students are eligible to apply for an unlimited amount of CPT. However, if a full 12 months or more of full-time CPT is used, a student loses all of the Optional Practical Training after graduation.
- Accrual of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.
Watch a short video on CPT.
Student Eligibility for CPT
To obtain CPT, a student must:
- Be in valid F-1 immigration status and be enrolled as a full-time student for at least two semesters prior to the CPT (except graduate students who must work immediately as a requirement for their degree).
- Still be a continuing student in the program of study (cannot have completed the program already).
- Secure a job offer related to the student's field of study and have a job offer letter.
- Have a curricular requirement for the internship or employment (see below: degree requirement, course credit, dissertation research).
- Obtain CPT authorization from the Office of Global Learning BEFORE beginning employment; authorization cannot be back-dated.
Types of Curricular Requirements for Internships
- CPT may be authorized when an internship is a requirement of a degree program (i.e. all students in the program must complete an internship to obtain the degree).
- Authorization can be for full-time or part-time employment, depending on the academic department's requirement.
- CPT may be authorized for students who enroll in a course that requires employment to earn the credit (such as engineering co-op or an internship course), or a course where students write a paper or design their own research project based on the employment (the employment forms the research basis for the paper or project).
- Enrollment in the course is usually after the employment but can be concurrent (the course can NOT be prior to the employment). Employment may take place in Fall, Spring, or Summer. Authorization will be granted on a semester-only basis.
- If you obtain CPT authorization based on the promise that you will take a course, you must take that course. If you do not end up taking the course, the work will be considered to be illegal work and you will be in violation of your status, which can have extremely serious consequences.
Required for the Dissertation / Thesis Research:
- CPT may be authorized if the work the student will be doing for the employment is a required part of the research for the dissertation or thesis.
- The employment cannot simply be related to the dissertation topic, but will actually be an integral research component of the dissertation / thesis project.
Professional Students in Law, JGSM, or ILR (masters in ILR):
For Law, JGSM or ILR students, there are internship courses specifically for you that allow for Curricular Practical Training. Please follow the link related to your program below (or to the left). You must register for these courses online starting in late-February.
Full-time Summer Internship: This is the most common time for students to use CPT.
- Full-time (more than 20 hours per week) employment is allowed for all continuing students in the summer if you are NOT registered for the summer.
- Authorization can be granted from the day after spring semester officially ends up to the last day of the summer (day before fall classes begin).
- For full-time summer CPT, the related course credit would generally be taken in the fall semester.
Part Time Summer Internship:
- If you are registered for the summer semester, you are only allowed to apply for part-time work authorization of no more than 20 hours per week.
Fall and Spring Internships:
Part-time internship in the Fall or Spring semester:
- During the Fall and Spring semester, when you are enrolled, employment is limited to part-time (20 hrs/week or less). In this case, the related course credit would be taken concurrently.
Full-time internship in the Fall or Spring semester:
- Occasionally a student takes a leave of absence for a semester to pursue an internship that is integral to the degree program. In this case, the full-time CPT maintains an F1 student’s valid status in lieu of full time registration in courses.
- The student must be on leave of absence and must meet the other criteria of eligibility for CPT. In this case, the internship MUST COVER the entire semester because it takes the place of coursework.
- Start date: NO LATER than the first day of classes,
- End date: NO EARLIER than the last day of classes.
Winter Break Internships:
Full-time Winter Internship:
- Full-time (20 hours or more per week) employment is allowed for all continuing students in the winter break if you are NOT registered for the winter session.
- Authorization can be granted from the day after fall semester officially ends up to the last day of the winter break (day before spring classes begin).
- For full-time winter CPT, the related course credit would generally be taken in the spring semester.
Part-time Winter Internship:
- If you are registered for the winter semester, you are only allowed to apply for part-time work authorization of no more than 20 hours per week.
How to Apply for CPT
- Print the CPT application from the Office of Global Learning website here.
- Obtain a job offer letter.
- Complete the “Student Information” section CPT Application.
- Ask your academic advisor or professor with whom you will complete the academic credit to complete the “Academic Advisor” portion of the application.
- Submit the CPT application and a copy of your job offer letter to the Office of Global Learning. Immigration advisors will review your application and your eligibility. If approved, the authorization is granted by issuing an updated I-20 with the employer's information notated on page 2 of the document.
- If you are not in Ithaca, you may scan and email the application and job offer letter to the Office of Global Learning.
- You will receive an email when your CPT has been granted and the I-20 has been updated and is ready to pick up. It will take the Office of Global Learning 3 to 5 business days to process your application.
- Pick up your updated I-20 at the Office of Global Learning (or we can mail it to you if you are not in Ithaca). The I-20 is shown to the employer as evidence of work authorization.