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Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Employment Authorization

CPT employment authorization is provided by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)[4] and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)[5] to temporarily allow international students with an F-1 visa to gain practical experience directly related to their major through employment, paid or unpaid internships, or cooperative education.

General Information:

  • Employment authorization granted to F-1 visa holders (i.e., undergraduate or graduate students)
  • Training must be directly related to a student’s major area of study
  • Training is an integral part of the school’s established curriculum and occurs before the student’s program end date
  • Students can work on CPT on a full- or part-time basis

man and woman in laboratory 522961179

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Hold (or have held) an F-1 Visa
  • Enrollment as a full-time student for at least one full academic year
  • The student has already secured a training position

Typical Petition Filing Process:

  • The process for CPT authorization begins with the student requesting CPT using the established process of the student’s institution. The designated school official (DSO) then reviews the request and determines whether the student is eligible for CPT.
  • If eligible, the DSO will complete the necessary paperwork and authorize CPT in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) for a specific employer. The student is then eligible to work within a specified time period, with a set start and end date for CPT.

Typical Length of Employment Authorization:

  • Contact the DSO at your institution for more information regarding the length of CPT required as part of your program of study

More Information:

  • A student with 12 months or more of full-time CPT will be ineligible for optional practical training (OPT), however part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.
  • If required by a graduate level program, a DSO can authorize CPT during the first semester of study.
  • The most accurate and up to date information regarding CPT is available from the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement webpages.
  • This content was last updated on 1/21/2021

This information is not meant to be regarded, interpreted, or relied upon as legal advice. While APS will work to keep this information up to date, be aware that visa and immigration policies are always subject to change and we recommend readers reference official government resources.

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