Curricular Practical Training CPT

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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)
  • Training relates directly to the student’s major area of study.
  • Training is an integral part of the school’s established curriculum.
  • Designated school official (DSO) authorized CPT in SEVIS and the authorization prints on the student’s Form I-20.
  • Occurs before the student’s program end date on the Form I-20.
  • Authorization is for one specific employer and for a specific period of time.
  • Students must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorized.
  • CPT must be authorized before the student can begin work.
  • Students can have more than one CPT authorization at the same time.
  • One year of full-time CPT eliminates a student’s eligibility for OPT.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Training relates directly to the student’s major area of study.
  • DSO recommends OPT in SEVIS.
  • A student does not have to secure training before the DSO can recommend OPT.
  • Authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and the student is issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • Allows the student to work for any employer, as long as the training relates to the student’s major course of study
  • Can occur before or after the student’s program end date.
  • Periods of OPT cannot overlap.
  • Students are eligible for an additional 12 months of OPT authorization when they change to a higher educational level.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

1. Complex rules apply to CPT because the training opportunity must comply with both:

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.


step Player Action
1 Student
  • Requests CPT using the school’s established processes.
  • Reviews request and determines student’s eligibility for CPT.
  • 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.

Note: The student cannot start work prior to the start date. All work must end by the CPT end date.



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
student’s status.

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


Jump to Can CPT be a good way to gain experience in addition to or instead of H-1B?



Submitted by Akshay Shetty (not verified) on Wed, 04/07/2021 - 18:55 Permalink

Having completed my 1st Non STEM Master, I opted for day 1 CPT program in a STEM course after my EAD expired for the 1st Master's OPT. Am I legally eligible to get hired for full time roles and can the company file for my H1B ?

If your approved CPT allows for full-time training, you can certainly work full-time. As to the complications created by the government in giving you status, I have posted links to that small entry in my blogs. We will also discuss it during the community conference call on Saturday, May 22, at 9 AM EST. Call 202 – 800 – 8394.

Submitted by Nidhi Parikh (not verified) on Wed, 04/07/2021 - 23:55 Permalink

Q1. I am F1 STEM OPT student,my all 3 attempts are exhausted. During my 2 years of Masters i have done 1CPT for 2 months. Can I enroll for Day1 CPT Master's again or I have to only option for DAY1 Phd/MBA CPT?

Q2.If I do Day1 CPT, Can i apply for H1-B application for that year, if application gets picked then Change of status from USCIS F1 to H1B For Day 1 CPT candidate is legal or illegal?

Submitted by Ashwini (not verified) on Thu, 04/08/2021 - 19:37 Permalink

Hi Rajiv, There have been instances where the students got the 1-20 changed.. but never joined the client on the date.. What will be the employer responsibility in these instances. How to safeguard employer interests?

The entire responsibility of the employer should be summed up in the cooperative agreement they have signed with the University.

Interestingly, there is no strict format for a cooperative agreement. Each University has developed its own. See, for instance, the last two pages of this sample cooperative agreement:…

Submitted by Akshay Gupte (not verified) on Mon, 04/19/2021 - 13:00 Permalink

Hello Rajiv ji,

I am quite skeptic about this Day 1 CPT, not sure whether its legitimate?

Will it have an impact if H1-B gets picked in future? Can a person travel aboard and come back without any immigration hassle b enrolling in this DAY 1 CPT.

I see only handful of universities give this Day 1 CPT option.

Let me know your thoughts on this if possible. Thank you for the support.

Submitted by Rajiv S. Khanna on Thu, 05/20/2021 - 06:20 Permalink

What is the difference between part-time and full-time CPT?

Submitted by Rajiv S. Khanna on Thu, 05/20/2021 - 06:26 Permalink In reply to by Rajiv S. Khanna

I was asked this question during a call today. Here is the answer.

Part-Time or Full-Time CPT
Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. 

Full-time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is full-time. Under the regs 12 months or more of full-time CPT takes your eligibility for OPT. To continue your CPT, you must be enrolled full-time or have an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL) from your DSO.

Submitted by AP (not verified) on Thu, 05/20/2021 - 19:50 Permalink

If 11 months of CPT is used and after that part time CPT is used for more that 6 months will this also jeopardize the OPT.

Submitted by Nisarg Chokshi (not verified) on Sat, 05/22/2021 - 22:18 Permalink

I am a F1 STEM OPT student working in the US since December 2020. Due to a severe health emergency back home in India, I may have to travel to India on an urgent basis. I wanted to know about what options I have for return to the USA in the end of June and is it advisable to travel to India without a viable return option.

Submitted by Shubham Vatsal (not verified) on Sun, 06/06/2021 - 06:08 Permalink

Hello Rajiv Ji, I hope you are doing well. I am currently doing my Masters at a US university. I am going to take part in CPT in the summer. However, I have not yet finished one academic year at my university. I joined my program in Spring 2021 and will take part in CPT after just one semester. Normally, my university only allows CPT after 1 academic year, but this year, this rule was relaxed due to Covid 19 federal. Students were not able to make it to the US in Fall 2020, hence the university authorized CPT after one sem as well. My university has entered into a summer co-op agreement with the employer I am going to work with.

I am curious if it will impact my future OPT or H1B related benefits? Since my university doesn't have an established requirement to do CPT before 1 academic year, can it result in denial of OPT? This year was just an exception for my university. Please guide.

Submitted by Rahul (not verified) on Tue, 06/15/2021 - 08:23 Permalink

Hello Rajiv, I am a F1 student since 2019. I was working for an employer during my cpt. I was working for the them during my summer semester, and according to my i20, I was supposed to work till August 14th 2020. However, my employer extended the internship. The days between the old i20(which has August 14th as end date) and new i20 which has a starting date of August 28th. I kept on working for them. This happened because there was some confusion between between my DSO and me. Will this impact my future opt or h1b?

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