Some F-1 students are eligible for practical training. There are two types of F-1 practical training:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT); and
- Optional Practical Training (OPT).
|Type of Practical Training||Comparative Points to Note|
|Curricular Practical Training (CPT)||
|Optional Practical Training (OPT)||
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
1. Complex rules apply to CPT because the training opportunity must comply with both:
- Federal regulations
- School policies regarding internships, experiential learning, etc.
2. The CPT must comply with the following regulatory requirements:
- The student is enrolled at a SEVP-certified college, university, conservatory, or seminary and has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least a full academic year (exception - day one CPT below)
- The student is not studying English as a second language.
- The student has secured a training position.
- CPT is integral to the student's major and the experience must be part of their program of study. This can be demonstrated through the school's standard brochures, website narratives, course descriptions, etc.
- The DSO will provide the student a new Form I-120 that shows the DSO has approved the CPT employment.
- Students can work on CPT either full-time or part-time.
- CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from the employer. This is typically a one-page document asserting the employer's understanding that the training is for college credits and that they will ensure that the student works in an area related to the education.
- If the student engages in 12 months or more of full-time CPT, they are ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop the OPT.
3. Day one CPT:
A student can get CPT as soon as they join the program ("day one CPT"), if in addition to the requirements for CPT stated above, they enroll at the graduate level and the program requires this type of experience for graduation.
CPT authorization is only required when the training is inside the United States. For example, a summer internship in a student’s home country does not need CPT authorization.
CPT PROCESS OVERVIEW
Note: The student cannot start work prior to the start date. All work must end by the CPT end date.
FAQ From ICE
Q: May a school authorize a student to participate in CPT instead of OPT?
A: No, CPT and OPT are not interchangeable. CPT accommodates individuals enrolled in a program
of study that requires participation in an internship or practicum. It is not a supplemental training
experience but rather an “integral part of an established curriculum” meaning it is a required part
of the degree or program of study. The regulation makes this clear by defining CPT as an
“internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum….” In
contrast, OPT accommodates students who have fulfilled the requirements of an academic or
vocational program and provides an opportunity to augment the student’s learning with real-world
Q: May a student participate in CPT related to the student’s minor or general graduation
A: Federal regulations require CPT to be directly related to a student’s major area of study. This
means CPT cannot be authorized based on a student’s minor or general graduation credits. CPT
participation may only be approved if the training opportunity is directly related to the major
program of study.
Q: Does a student need to receive authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) to participate in CPT?
A: No; however, a student’s DSO must authorize CPT in SEVIS. Please note that SEVIS will not allow
DSOs to backdate the authorization.
Q: Can a student begin participating in CPT while waiting on their school official to authorize
the training in SEVIS?
A: No; a student’s DSO must authorize the student’s CPT in SEVIS before the student can
participate. Participating in practical training without the necessary authorization could violate the
Q: Can a student have more than one CPT authorization at the same time?
A: Yes; however, a separate CPT authorization is needed for each employer and each CPT segment