Curricular Practical Training in USA – CPT Work Authorization

CPT Work Authorization

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary employment authorization for F-1 visa non-immigrant foreign students in the United States while enrolled in a college-level degree program. It allows F-1 international students to participate in paid off-campus academic internships during their degree program. The main aim is to use the skills obtain during the course of study under CPT work authorization.

To be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training the duration of stay in USA has to be of 9 months.

CPT work authorization for F1 visa Candidates:

Curricular Practical Training is work authorization as mentioned before which is directly related to the student’s major and is concerned with the respective school the student is enrolled in. It is an integral part of a student’s academic life giving the circular credits.

Unlike Optional Practical Training, Curricular Practical Training is restricted to be completed before graduation. But just like OPT; it can be carried out in part time or full time. Students appear for part time Curricular Practical Training during their classes while in the vacations they take up the full time Curricular Practical Training. Working less that 20 hours in a week comes under the part time while working for more than 40 hours forms the full time.

If there is some minor change in course, like the duration shortens or the overload decreases even then the students remain eligible for the CPT .

Practical Training provides valuable information and the work experience by sharpening and adding to the Skills you are learning in the school. The most important thing about the Curricular Practical Training which differentiates it from the OPT is that it should be strictly within the boundaries of the related major taken by the student. Any experience undertaken must be part of the program study.

Before starting for the Curricular Practical Training, it has to be authorized by the DESGINATION SCHOOL OFFICE during student’s first semester only. The requirement for getting the approval of doing CPT is the letter from the employer where you have applied and agreed to work.

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The maximum duration for the Curricular Practical Training  is 12 months, exact one academic year. If the student has utilized his entire 12 months Curricular Practical Training duration then he/she becomes ineligible for the OTP but with the part time Curricular Practical Training and duration still left to be completed, anyone can apply for OPT jobs. If you are doing MBA, you may not work for more than 9 months in order to be eligible for 11 months of OPT.

The benefit of Curricular Practical Training is student can get an exemption on one of their course if they take up Curricular Practical Training because it is like one of the academic course only which adds credits to student’s grades. Those who take up the thesis are not eligible for the Curricular Practical Training or CPT work authorization. Accumulation of full time CPT blacklist the student from OPT program.

The limitation with the Curricular Practical Training is that student’s applying for the program cannot work with any kind of employer, only those who support Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and I-20 list. Curricular Practical Training is employer specific you must apply for a new CPT authorization before you work for the new employer. Curricular Practical Training can be paid or unpaid internship and the student must hold Social Security Number to receive the payments. The student is exempted from paying the tax for the initial first five years. The student’s earnings will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and employers are required to withhold those taxes from your paychecks.

The students do not receive the EAD because the I-20 form within itself consists for the eligibility proof. I-20 form is used in complement with I-94 card for the employment formality completion.

Eligibility Criteria:

A DSO can authorize CPT for an F1 student enrolled at an SEVP-certified college, university, conservatory, or seminary. To be eligible for CPT, you must:

  • Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (i.e. two full consecutive terms) unless your academic program requires immediate participation for all students.
    Note: An exception exists for students in graduate studies whose programs require earlier training
  • Be in lawful F-1 status
  • Not be enrolled in an intensive English language training program
  • Is not studying English as a second language.
  • Has secured a job or training position.
  • Job must be related to student’s major
  • Obtain CPT authorization BEFORE beginning employment

CPT Process Overview

1 Student  – Requests CPT using the school’s established processes.
2 DSO – Reviews request and determines student’s eligibility for CPT.
3 DSO – Authorizes CPT in SEVIS for a specific employer.
–  Prints and signs Form I-20 with CPT authorization.
4 Student – Begins work on or after the CPT start date.

Limits of CPT

  • CPT is not available once a student completes the degree
  • 12 months of full time CPT will eliminate OPT at the same degree level
  • The student cannot start work prior to the start date.
  • All work must end by the CPT end date.

Types of CPT:

Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. You must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time and be physically present on campus in order to maintain lawful F-1 status during fall and winter terms.

Full-time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is full-time. Please be aware that 12 months or more of full-time CPT will eliminate your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). During fall and winter terms, you must be enrolled full-time or have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).

Major points to be eligible for undertaking the Curricular Practical Training are:

➤ holder of F-1 visa

➤ Compulsory enrolled at a University

➤ CPT is for the majors

➤ the credits are added to the degree

There are two variations in the CPT:

➤ Non required for academic- the practical work experience is for credit and directly related to your field of study.

➤ Required for academic – non-academic program mandates practical work experience in the field of study to graduate.

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