Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students where the employment is considered to be an integral part of the curriculum or academic program. According to the immigration regulations, this employment may be an internship, cooperative education job, a practicum, or any other work experience that is either required for your degree (as defined in the course catalog) or for which academic credit is awarded.
Requirements for CPT Authorization
The CPT must be an integral part of an established curriculum* and meet one of the following requirements:
- The training is a required part of the program of study (such as a required practicum); OR
- The student will receive course credit for the employment*; OR
- The employment is offered through a cooperative agreement between UCA and the employer.
(*In practical terms, ‘integral part of an established curriculum’ means an opportunity must be required by the curriculum or, if not required, the student must receive credit for the training.)
Student Eligibility for CPT
In order to be eligible for CPT and to receive authorization through the Office of International Engagement, a student must meet the following conditions:
- The student must have been maintaining F-1 status for a minimum of 9 months (2 semesters).
- The student must be enrolled in a course for which work authorization is an integral part of the established curriculum (See Requirements for CPT).
- The student must complete CPT before completing his/her studies. Students who have completed their studies must apply for optional practical training (OPT).
Procedures for Applying for CPT
- The student must read and sign the “Request for Curricular Practical Training” form.
- Request that his/her adviser complete the “Advisor Recommendation for CPT” form.
- Register for required course credit.
- Provide a copy of the course syllabus indicating employment is an essential component of the course.
- Provide an offer letter from employer on their official letterhead.
- Bring all documentation to the Office of International Engagement to request endorsement on the student’s I-20 giving authorization for CPT.
- You may not begin working until you have received this authorization.
Download the CPT Application Packet
- CPT is authorized for a specific employer for a specific length of time.
- You may not begin employment until you have received authorization from the Office of International Engagement.
- Use of CPT does not disqualify a student from OPT (work authorization after graduation) unless the CPT is for one year of full-time CPT.
- Employment will only be authorized for the period of class enrollment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get paid for CPT? What if I don’t want to get paid?
CPT gives you specific off-campus work authorization. Internships through CPT can either be paid or unpaid. Both options require you to receive off-campus work authorization by filing for CPT.
How many hours can I work per week?
While class is in session, you can work a maximum of 20 hours per week. During the summer, even if you are taking classes, you can work over 20 hours per week.
Can I receive CPT without being enrolled in a class?
No. To receive off-campus work authorization for CPT you must be enrolled in a class in which off-campus work authorization is an integral part of the established curriculum.
It will be good for me to have work experience before I graduate. Why can’t I just work off-campus?
F-1 student visas are designed for full-time study and do not permit general work authorization. After graduation, you can receive practical work experience in your field through Optional Practical Training (OPT).
How long does it take to receive CPT?
Once all your paperwork is completed along with sufficient supporting documentation, the DSO can immediately approve the request for CPT. If the DSO has a question about whether or not the CPT request meets the legal requirements, it may take 1-2 days to further research the request.
How much does it cost to apply for CPT?
The CPT application is free.
Can my CPT last beyond the semester?
No. CPT will only be authorized while you have a job offer and while you are enrolled in an eligible class. You can reapply for CPT in previous, even consecutive, semesters if you are enrolled in a course requiring off-campus employment.
My course requires performance experience with multiple jobs throughout the semester. Do I need to apply for CPT for each employment?
Yes. CPT will only be authorized for a specific employer for the duration of the employment. If you later have another employment opportunity required by your course, you will need to apply for CPT again.
How can I find an internship available for international students?
UCA’s Career Services has resources for students on finding internships. Contact them to find out which opportunities are available for international students.