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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Eligibility & Applying
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is the authorization type F-1 students must receive prior to engaging in off campus employment, regardless of whether the job is paid or unpaid (this includes internships, practicums, field placements, etc). The primary purpose of CPT is to achieve a specific academic objective in accordance with your academic program. Authorization for CPT is given in the form of an I-20 endorsed by your Visa & Immigration Services Advisor. Students may engage in CPT employment only after they have received their updated I-20 listing the specific employer/field site, location, time period as evidence of their authorization.
- CPT can be part-time during the academic year or full time during summer sessions, but may not run past the first day of the subsequent term of study. Part-time is defined as being 20 hours or less per week and full time as 21 or more hours per week.
- If you are authorized for part-time CPT, your combined on-campus employment and CPT hours cannot exceed 20 hours of work per week (unless you are G5), while school is in session (this includes Teaching Assistant, Graduate Assistant and Research Assistant positions).
- Full-time CPT may only be possible during the academic year for G5 students who are working on thesis/dissertation research.
- CPT cannot be authorized after course requirements, thesis/project or dissertation are completed.
- An accumulation of 12 months of full-time CPT makes you ineligible for OPT for that degree level.
Eligibility for CPT:
- Attendance at a CPT Workshop. In lieu of attending a CPT Workshop, you can review the CPT & Pre-Completion OPT Presentation or recorded webinar.
- Enrollment in an approved internship course for each semester you will request CPT authorization (including Winter and Summer terms). The course may be mandatory for all students in the degree program or may be optional, but must be in the major area of study and must apply toward completion of the degree requirements.
- If you have completed all required course work except thesis or dissertation, your CPT must contribute data to your thesis or dissertation.
- Employment must be directly related to your major field of study.
- Enrolled as a full-time F-1 student for at least one academic year and maintaining valid F-1 status.
- Maintaining good academic standing, have no pending I grades from prior semesters, and a satisfactory GPA:
Undergraduate Student GPA must be > 2.0
Graduate Student GPA must be > 3.0
Application Procedures for CPT:
- Register for the approved internship course for the semester in which you will request CPT authorization.
- Complete both forms within the Curricular Practical Training request in accessVIS.
● Upload the Employment Offer Letter: Signed offer letter printed on official letterhead addressing the following points:
● Description of your specific duties
● Dates of employment (begin and end dates)
● Number of hours of work per week
● Physical address of the employment (do not use P.O. Box)
● Name of your supervisor
● View Template Letter
Allow 5-7 business days for processing. If your CPT request is approved, a new I-20 will be issued and you will be contacted via email.
Important Application Considerations
You may engage in CPT employment only after you have received the I-20 with your CPT authorization from VIS. The work authorization will only be valid for the specific employer, location, time period and on a part-time or full-time basis as approved and recorded by a VIS advisor and evidenced on your I-20 issued for CPT.
You must not continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your permission to work from VIS. To do so would be a violation of your nonimmigrant student status, and such violation would jeopardize your ability to remain in the US.
- CPT Workshops
CPT and Pre-Completion OPT Workshop Schedule:
This workshop will provide detailed information regarding the U.S. regulations and application procedures associated with Pre Completion OPT and CPT. Attendance and/or review of the CPT workshop is required for any F-1 Student who wishes to obtain work authorization to engage in Curricular Practical Training/Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training.
Monday, February 20th 11:00 AM EST Virtual (Registration Link) Wednesday, April 5th 1:00 PM EST Frey 100 Wednesday, May 3rd 1:00 PM EST Virtual (Registration Link)
Watch our most recent CPT webinar:
What's the difference between CPT and OPT?
- No. You must apply for CPT at least ten business days before you wish to begin work. You must have been approved for and have received an updated I-20 signed by an International Student Advisor and endorsed for CPT before you may begin work.
- Not necessarily. If you have a job offer in your field of study, but the work is not required for you to make academic progress, you may not qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), but Pre-completion OPT may be an option. Speak with your VIS Advisor.
- No. A CPT authorization is a job-specific authorization, so you must complete and a new CPT Request in accessVIS if you wish to extend or add additional employment.
- Pursuant to 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i): "...Students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training (CPT)are ineligible for post-completion academic training (OPT)."
Part-time CPT does not impact OPT eligibility.
- You should contact your International Student Advisor immediately so that we can amend your authorization dates. This is especially important when you were authorized for full-time CPT, so that this time will not count against your eligibility for optional practical training (OPT).
- No, your VIS Advisor will verify your enrollment history through the university system. However, if you recently transferred to Stony Brook and wish to begin work on CPT prior to having been enrolled here for one academic year, you will need to provide us with transcripts from your previous school to show that you have fulfilled the enrollment requirement.
- While school is in session you may only engage in a maximum of 20 hours of employment per week, regardless of whether you engaged in employment on or off campus. So if you meet the eligibility requirements for CPT, you may be authorized for part-time CPT for an additional 15 hours. However, the total employment while school is in session may not exceed 20 hours per week (graduate assistantships count as your 20 hours of permissible work per week).
- Yes! You should apply for work for authorization for any internship, even if you will not be paid.
Even if you are not being paid for work you are performing off campus, you may still require CPT authorization.
From an immigration standpoint, volunteering is considered a selfless act of donating one's time to the benefit of others. It is not unpaid employment. True volunteers donate their time without expecting anything in return professionally or monetarily. If the activity relates to your studies or intended profession, it is likely considered training, and requires advance authorization from our office or USCIS.
If you intend to work for a company and the activity is related to your field of study or intended profession, this would be considered "unpaid employment," and would indeed require work authorization such as CPT.
- You will receive an e-mail message that your updated Form I-20 has been issued. Prior to beginning your training you must be in possession of this updated Form I-20, which will be properly endorsed with the CPT authorization on page two. Employment before or after your authorized dates of training will jeopardize your F-1 status.
- Yes. Enrollment in an approved internship course is required. The course may be mandatory for all students in the degree program or may be optional, but must be in the major area of study and must apply toward completion of the degree requirements.
- You must be enrolled in an approved internship course for at least 1 credit.
- Yes. As long as you are currently in F-1 status and will maintain this status throughout your CPT, and have been enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year, you are eligible to apply for CPT.
Based on regulatory guidance and the true definition of CPT, we advise against students participating in virtual internships through foreign companies while they are physically present in the U.S. because this may jeopardize their immigration status and access to future immigration benefits.
Students who wish to pursue this type of employment should speak with an immigration lawyer.