Curricular Practical Training for F-1 Students

The most recent US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) regulations governing Curricular Practical Training took effect on January 1, 2003. These regulations apply to all students in F-1 status – those who were in the United States on or before January 1, 2003 and those who entered after that date.

When do I need authorization for Curricular Practical Training?

You must have authorization from the ISSS office before you begin a paid or unpaid internship or any other form of curricular practical training.

As an F-1 student your employment cannot begin until you receive your SEVIS I-20 with the curricular practical training endorsement.

Any internship, paid or unpaid, must be authorized before you begin the placement!

Beginning curricular practical training without proper authorization is a violation of immigration regulations and will have serious consequences.

What is Curricular Practical Training?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that is an integral part of an established curriculum.

Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, or cooperative education arranged with the approval of your program, or any type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements. CPT may take place during the academic year and/or in the summer and MUST be undertaken prior to the completion of a course of study. Because USCIS uses a broad definition of employment – any activity for which a student receives a benefit, monetary or otherwise – even unpaid internships require CPT authorization.

When is CPT required and when is it recommended?

CPT may be required or recommended. This is decided by the stated requirements of an academic degree.

CPT is required when it is a required part of the curriculum; it should be mentioned in the section of the college catalog, which describes the department's requirements and course offerings. All students in that degree program are required to complete an internship or practicum.

CPT is recommended when it is beneficial for the student to engage in the employment experience but the experience is NOT necessary for the completion of the degree. A student authorized for recommended CPT is required by current immigration regulations to register for a minimum of 1 college credit which reflects the CPT placement; this credit must be granted by the academic department for each semester of the CPT placement, including the summer semester.

Who is eligible to do curricular practical training?

Students in F-1 status must have been lawfully enrolled in school on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year before becoming eligible for practical training. CPT must be undertaken prior to the completion of a course of study.

The academic year in-status requirement is waived for students enrolled in graduate studies which require immediate participation in curricular practical training.

How much CPT can I do and still be eligible for OPT?

Students who complete 12 or more months of full-time curricular practical training will be ineligible for optional practical training. To continue to be eligible for OPT you will want to make sure to do 364 days or less of full-time CPT.

Is there a fee for CPT?

There is no fee to apply for curricular practical training. Processing is done in the ISSS office.

What paperwork is required?

The following items are needed to process an application for curricular practical training:

  • Completed Assistant Dean/Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form for Curricular Practical Training
  • Offer letter from employer on their official letterhead. The letter needs to include:
    • the starting and ending dates of the placement
    • number of hours per week
    • a brief description of duties to be performed.

Once the curricular practical training application is complete, the ISSS Office will update the SEVIS record and print a copy of the student's SEVIS I-20, authorizing curricular practical training with that employer only.  The SEVIS I-20 will be given to the student. You must have the SEVIS I-20 in hand prior to commencing the employment.

If I get a new position, or I need to work an additional period of time do I need to do a new CPT application?

A new application will be required if there is a change of employers or if the employment is to be continued beyond the current ending date. An updated offer letter and an updated Assistant Dean/Academic Advisor's form are required.

If you have additional questions regarding curricular practical training email Debbi Damico, Director of International Student and Scholar Services at: or you can call 718-862-7213 and schedule an appointment.

Download the CPT Recommendation Form

Download the CPT Checklist