Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

You must apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) to receive authorization from International Student Services (ISS) to work off campus in a paid or unpaid position. CPT will only be authorized if the experience is directly related to your major area of study and is a required or integral part of your program’s established curriculum. It cannot be used solely for career development or to facilitate employment.

Working off campus without authorization is a violation of your status which will result in your I-20 being terminated without the option for reinstatement. 

Eligibility Criteria

  • You are in F-1 status.

  • You have been continuously enrolled full-time for at least 1 academic year. If you have questions about your eligibility for CPT, please meet with an advisor at International Student Services.

  • You meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirements:

    • Undergraduate Students: 2.5

    • Graduate Students: 3.0

    • Law Students: 2.0

  • You have reached advanced standing or Professional Admission in your major, if applicable (undergraduate students only).

  • Your CPT experience meets one of the conditions below and you register for the required units.

    • Condition #1: The CPT experience is based on a requirement for all students in the program in order to graduate. If required by your department, you must register for the appropriate units.

    • Condition #2: The CPT experience is necessary for collecting data or conducting research for the thesis or dissertation. You must register for thesis, dissertation or research units. If your CPT experience occurs over the summer, you must show registration for thesis, dissertation or research in the summer or the following fall semester. Master’s Project students should also apply under this condition and should enroll in master’s project summer units if occurring over summer.

    • Condition #3: The CPT experience is based upon the awarding of course credit. You must register for internship, practicum or independent study units. IBM Co-op students should also apply under this condition.

How many times can I participate in CPT?

The number of times you can participate in CPT depends on your major and degree requirements, and proof that the CPT opportunity is directly related to your major area of study and a required or integral part of your curriculum. U.S. immigration regulations require that CPT be used for employment that is a required or integral part of the curriculum and not solely for career development.

In general, CPT is authorized for one semester at time. If you have already engaged in CPT and would like to apply for CPT again, you must submit a new application. We must receive sufficient documentation explaining what learning outcomes were met during the previous period of CPT and what will be accomplished during an additional period of CPT.

Part-time vs. Full-time CPT

CPT is limited to part-time employment (up to 20 hours a week) during the fall and spring semesters. If you are a graduate student who has completed all coursework you may be eligible for full-time CPT (more than 20 hours a week).  During official school breaks, CPT can be authorized part-time or full-time.

If you complete 12 or more months of full-time CPT you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Maintain your status on CPT

While on CPT, you must:While on CPT, you may not:
  • Make normal progress towards your degree

  • Maintain full-time enrollment

  • Wait for CPT approval before beginning work

  • Work only during your authorized CPT dates

  • Work only for your authorized employer

  • Delay completion of your degree to participate in CPT

  • Begin working before your CPT has been approved

  • Work beyond your authorized CPT dates

  • Work for an employer or at a location not authorized on your I-20

Additional Resources

In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. less than five years are exempt from Social Security (F.I.C.A.) taxes. Your earnings are subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes. Students must file a tax return on or before April 15 each year, which will determine if any of the withheld taxes can be refunded. 

If you do not have an SSN, you may apply for one after your CPT request is approved (no earlier than 30 days prior to your internship start date). For more information about how to apply, visit the Social Security Administration (SSA) website (select "Original Card for a Noncitizen Adult"). 

How to Apply

Submit the Curricular Practical Training e-form in UA International at least 2 weeks prior to your proposed start date.

  • In the e-form, you will be asked to provide the name and email address for your academic advisor. The advisor you indicate will receive an email with a link to UA International so he or she can confirm your degree completion date and that the CPT experience is integral to your program of study.

  • You must upload a letter from your employer to the e-form to complete your application. Your academic advisor will be able to view the letter you uploaded when he or she logs into UA International.  You may use the CPT Employer Letter Template (must be printed on company letterhead) or an employment offer letter, as long as it includes the following information:

    • Job title

    • Position duties

    • Company information

    • Hours per week

    • Start and end dates

Normal processing time is 10 business days from the date your academic advisor submits the advisor portion of the e-form in UA International.