EmploymentCurricular Practical Training (CPT)


Definition of Curricular Practical Training

The regulations state that curricular practical training must be "an integral part of an established curriculum." They define curricular practical training as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school."  "Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at an DHS-approved school for one full academic year before being eligible for CPT. Available only while student is in F-1 status, before completion of the educational objective."


  • must have completed 50% of the major course works 
  • must have completed two semesters with minimum 9 units in major courses 
  • must have maintained minimum 2.5 GPA.

Field/level of work

Must be an integral part of an established curriculum in the student's course of study.


Students may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location, and period approved by the Cooperative Work Experience Education program (CWEE) and the ISP office, and recorded in SEVIS.


Depends on the specific period granted by the ISP office. May be granted by the ISP office in increments of no more than one year, or until expected date of employment completion, whichever is shorter. No cumulative maximum, except that it can only be approved before completion of the academic objective.

Offer of employment

Must have an offer of employment from an employer offering work that qualifies as curricular practical training.

Approval process

Must receive written authorization from DSO, who records authorization in SEVIS and issues SEVIS I-20 with notation, before work begins. USCIS approval is not required.

Hours per week

Determine the number of units you can enroll in based on the amount of hours worked in a term.
*To calculate how many units you are eligible for during a term, multiply the approximate number of hours you will be working per week by number of weeks in the term​​.
Example: You work approximately 10 hours per week x 17 weeks = 170 hours. Therefore, you can register for two units.
​Units ​Hours required for PAID ​Hours required for UNPAID
​ 1 ​75 ​60
​ 2 ​150 ​120
 ​3 ​225 ​180
​*4 ​300 ​240
 *See Q & A section in CWEE website.

Effect on other work

Use of full-time CPT for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training. Use of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for Optional Practical Training


Must continue to maintain a full course of study in F-1 status during the period of employment, but some exceptions may exist for some CPT.

Limits on the use of CPT

There is not specified limit on either the number of times or the length of time a student may engage in either part- or full-time curricular practical training. This will be governed by the nature of the training and the requirements of the student's program.

Effect of use of CPT impact eligibility for OPT

F-1 students who engage in an aggregate of 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training become ineligible for optional practical training.

Procedures to apply for Curricular Practical Training

  1. Make an appointment with the ISP academic counselor to receive an authorization signature on the CPT Employment Request Form.
  2. Find an employer either through CWEE program or by yourself
  3. Register with CWEE for CWEE credits and pay tuition for the course (see How to Register for CWEE)
  4. Submit:

CPT Employment Request Form to the ISP office after CWEE staff signs to authorize your internship

CPT Proof of Employment Form completed by your employer


 5.  Receive a new I-20 with an authorization for your internship BEFORE starting to work



*You can start working after you receive a new I-20. However, if it is a paid internship, be sure to apply for and receive a Social Security Number.  Go to Social Security Number page.
*CPT authorization is on the term-by-term basis. You have to terminate your internship by the end of the authorized term.
* Unpaid internship can be done without a Social Security Number.


Go to: Study in the States - Training Opportunities in the United States​​

Go to: Study in the States - Obtaining a Social Security Number